Rain creates more than puddles and potholes for county roads department
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
An estimated six inches of rain in the northern part of Henry County over the weekend has kept the road department busy.
Henry County Engineer Bill Belzer told the board of supervisors on Tuesday morning that there were crews out both Sunday and Monday dealing with high water going over some of the county’s roads.
The main issues seemed to be in the northern portion of the county, which received the most rain during the weekend’s storms.
Belzer noted problem areas as the east-west road and the north-south road bordering Louisa County, the area where Big Creek enters Henry County, south of Winfield Avenue and Nebraska Avenue.
Thankfully the water on Big Creek seemed to recede fairly rapidly.
“It went down about as fast as it came up,” said Belzer.
He noted that although there had been some barricades put up in areas, no roads had been closed — yet.
“There’s a chance we’re going to close some because the Skunk (River) is still coming up,” said Belzer.
Belzer noted that as of Tuesday morning the water was not over the banks of the Skunk River yet. However, in Augusta the water level was projected to rise four feet. A rise of even three more feet would put the water over the roads in Henry County.
“It will not go down quickly,” said Belzer.
This also causes concern for the logjam located on the southwest side of the bridge on Highway 55.
Almost two weeks ago, the supervisors awarded the contract to Batey Limited to clean up the logjam for $31,750. However, now the question is whether Batey Limited will still be able to do the work for that same price.
“They’re not going to know anything until the water goes down,” said Belzer. “I do know we’re getting more logs.”
He noted it would take at least a couple of weeks for the water level to go back down.
In other business, the supervisors signed the agreement with adjoining property owners to chip and seal a portion of Jewel Avenue.
Supervisor Vice Chairman Marc Lindeen commented that residents have often asked him why the county cannot chip and seal all of the county’s roads. He said the county’s engineers that he has worked with have always said it was too expensive.
However, now that the adjoining property owners are willing to fund the project, it is being described as a “trial project” to see if it is successful.
“We’ve had people come forth and give us a chance to see if it works for Henry County,” said Lindeen.
The plan is to chip and seal a portion of Jewel Avenue from N. Grand Avenue to the south side of the bridge — a distance of .77 miles. Initial construction costs — $62,347 to Shipley Construction — will be funded by the property owners.
Maintenance of the road is the sole responsibility of the county. If the maintenance costs for the chip and seal road exceed the average cost to maintain the road as a gravel road, the project will be considered a failure.
If it is determined to be a failure, the homeowners will be given 14 days notice before the road is torn up and returned to gravel.
In other business, the supervisors:
• Approved the Henry County Sheriff’s department to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice and Homeland Security to be reimbursed for for illegal aliens housed in the county jail for more than four consecutive days.
• Appointed Lindeen to serve as the designated decision-maker for the regionalization of mental health services. Lindeen will attend meetings with the other counties in the region as the 28E agreement is being drafted and the region is being formed. Chairman Gary See will serve as alternate.