Road conditions cause concerns in Sumter County

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Concerned citizens of Emelle and Sumterville came before the Sumter County Commission Monday looking for relief. The citizens were growing concerned with conditions on their dirt roads, namely Sumterville Road, which was causing numerous problems.

Among the list of issues were timber, which needed to be cut, ditches that needed to be pulled and a need for gravel to be put down.

Many felt the trees surrounding the road had reached a point where graters could not even be used.

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Sheila Dial, who is a home health nurse, said the road made conditions difficult for her patients and their medical care personnel trying to reach them.

“I have traveled just about every dirt road that is in Sumter County,” Dial said. “It has gotten to a point where we can not even go see our patients because these roads are simply impassable.”

Dial said without a vehicle with proper clearance and traction it was impossible to get in or out of the road after a hard rain.

“A lot of our people do not have the big four wheel drive vehicles you need to get through,” Dial said. “If you have a little Honda Accord or some other small car you can’t get down the road.”

Dial added many of the residents on the road were not able to go about their daily business because the muddy conditions had them trapped.

“Some of our patients have not been able to go see their physicians on their scheduled days because it may have rained all weekend,” Dial said. “They don’t have anybody that can come get them. I service the community and it shouldn’t be where our citizens can’t receive medical attention and the services they need because a road is too muddy.”

Most residents of the road felt paving would not be necessary. Many said they would be content to have gravel and proper drainage in place.

Commission Chairman Isaac Bonner said they would do whatever they could to fix the situation.

“We will do whatever we can to solve the problem,” Bonner said. “We appreciate all of you coming before the commission to let us know about the problems you are having.”

Bonner said the commission fully understood the need for upkeep on many of the county’s dirt roads and said they would schedule repairs.

“We realize that for some of the roads that are dirt, we need to do some ditch work and try to get drainage,” Bonner said. “We have work orders in to try to address some of these problems we just have to go out, execute and try to make it look a little better.”

The major problem in repairing the roads has been grants and time restraints on other projects. Currently, the commission is working on several projects for which funding was awarded. The projects came with a July deadline, which has been difficult to meet because of the wet spring weather. Commissioner Ronnie Beard said the county has been working hard to address every issue.

“Rain and bad weather really mess us up when we are trying to get these things done,” Beard said. “We have to get those projects done by July 18 to finish all this or we have to send the money back.”

Bonner said despite the time constraints the commission was not looking for excuses. Bonner said the proper time would be allotted to making the conditions on Sumterville Road acceptable.

“We take full responsibility for this,” Bonner said. “We aren’t making any excuses. We know we need to get out and get some of the work done.”