There is some confusion over whether a road located in the southern portion of Upson County is in fact a public county road or private road, and the Board of Commissioners are searching for the answer. At the BOC’s November 10 meeting, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston stated he and Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder had received several calls about Minor Road, which is partially paved and partially dirt. It has become hard to travel due to the amount of damage caused by logging trucks. The commissioners are now trying to determine if the road was ever officially abandoned by the county or if it is still considered a public road to see who is responsible for repairing the damage and the upkeep of the road.
“It has been discussed that somewhere in past history that the dirt part (of Minor Road) had been abandoned, but we can’t find anything to say it was abandoned,” Blackston said. “This office has given out copies (years ago) to people who have built homes down there on the dirt road that it was an official public road of Upson County. If that be the case, then we need to start maintaining it.”
Blackston noted that Upson County Road Superintendent James Melton considers the dirt portion of the road to be private property. Commissioner Steve Hudson stated he had spoken with the county’s longest term employee, who began working for the county 34 years ago driving a trash truck, and he was told it was considered a private road way back then. The employee noted there was a gate up at the beginning of the dirt road and the trash truck was to stop at the gate and empty the dumpster and not go past the gate. So, Hudson stated in his opinion, the gate being up constituted abandonment and made it a private road.
Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder told the board the gate is no longer up now and was taken down around five years ago, however when it was up the only people who were allowed to go past it were residents who had the code to open it. He added that he had found a letter that was written from the county commission chairman a few years ago that said the paved portion of the road would be maintained by the county, but anything past the gate was the responsibility of the homeowners on the dirt portion of the road. However, he was unsure if that would constitute abandonment by the county or not.
Chairman Blackston stated it was something the board needed to look into because residents on the road were concerned about emergency personnel being able to get a fire truck or ambulance or police car down to the houses if needed. He stated due to the damage caused by the logging trucks, people have to use a road that runs through the woods to get back to Highway 80. Wilder agreed that the damage is extensive and if it is considered a county road then it is going to take quite an effort to repair it.
County Attorney Heath English told the commissioners he believes there was an informal agreement between the commission and the residents at the time the letter Commissioner Wilder mentioned was sent and nothing was ever officially done.
“As best we can tell there was no formal abandonment, voting or anything like that,” English said. “So, it would seem at this point that it has not been abandoned.”
He continued, stating the commissioners can use the county code to rectify some of the damage done by the logging companies. English added enforcing the county code will likely not cover much of the damage, but there is also a state law in place that can be enforced to cover the rest of the damage. He noted the Road Department needs to assess the damage first and then the county should put the logging company on notice and give them a few days to make repairs before going further. In the mean time, he and the commissioners will continue to research the matter to see who is responsible for the dirt portion of the road.
In other business, the board approved 16 beer and wine license renewals for 2016. They are as follows: Hannah’s Mill Store; Kelly’s Korner; Cat Café; Southside Grocery; One Stop Petro; Fish Peddler; Bickley’s Lake; Sunoco; Flash Foods; Kareem BP; Upson Grocery; Wilson’s Market; McCarty’s Superette; Proud Ace Club; American Legion and Community Superette. Any businesses that did not turn in their renewals by the deadline will now have to apply for a new license.
Finally, the county is in need of filling several positions on community boards. Currently there are openings on the Tax Assessors Board and the DFCS Board. Citizens wishing to serve on a community board should pick up an application at the Board of Commission Office located in the Government Complex at 106 E. Lee Street.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1