Lake access blocked by gate

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

For the last 30 years, James Williams has enjoyed grabbing his rod and reel on sunny days and heading down the Taylor Lake road to catch a string of fish.

But, recently, a gate placed on the road has been a barrier to those fishing trips.

Landowner Rex Doyle, who argues the road is private, put up a gate. Williams, and many others who use the road, disagree.

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The road, Williams said, is important for many people to want access to the public lake. The people who use the road, Williams said, would like to see it made officially public as quickly as possible.

“Somebody is dragging their feet out there,” Williams said. “If the county attorney says it is a public road, then it needs to be open.”

No one wanted to take drastic action and remove the gate themselves, Williams said. They just wanted some help.

“We want to abide by the law,” Williams said. “We want you to help us get access to the road. One man doesn’t need to block 200 or 300 people.”

Phillip Reynolds, who owns land in the area, said the gate has cut him off from his own property.

“There are a lot of people that fish down there,” Reynolds said. “One man has blocked it and refused to let anyone go in and out of there. I don’t know whose authority he did that on, but he says the county commission said he could put a gate there.”

Before removing the gate, Commission Chairman Isaac Bonner said they wanted to make sure whatever decision they made regarding the road was within the law.

“We will talk it over with the county attorney and he can give us some direction on it,” Bonner said. “We will follow up with him and he can give us direction and a time limit.”

When they reached a decision, he said, they would let everyone know.

Epes Mayor Walter Porter also came to the commission seeking help. The town is seeking grants, to help them repair its streets and improve the city’s sewage system. The town needs assistance from the county in the form of manpower, Porter said.

“The town will supply all the materials that are needed,” Porter said. “By you helping us with the project, that will give us an extra 20 points and help us get more grant money.”

Since the project is only expected to take a couple of days, the commission agreed to help the citizens.