County faces funding challenge to repair bridges

Marion County may be walking a tightrope when it comes to replacing bridges on less-traveled roads this summer.

Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford told Marion County commissioners Mon?day that the state will allow $29,500 in engineering fees on eight county bridges designated by the state for rebuilding.

Crawford said if the county doesn?t replace the bridges this year, the state could set the same engineering fees for next year.

With the commissioners in agreement, Crawford said he wants to begin replacing the predominantly rural bridges on the less-traveled roads with low-water bridges and railroad car culverts.

Commission Chair Dan Holub said the commissioners will see, with Crawford?s help, if they can get the state to hold off on the inspections until October to give the county a chance to cut down on the number of bridges that need attention.

Four bridges would be designated a fee at $2,000 each, one at $2,500, one at $4,000, one at $5,000 and one at $10,000.

Crawford said with both bridge weight limits and road rock, the county is having a hard time keeping up given the larger sizes in semitrailers and machinery used by farmers.

The commissioners said they will continue the effort to put down larger road rock to build road bases, and get commitments for surface materials even if undesignated money from the general fund has to be used to help.

Crawford said when wind turbines for electrical generation begin delivery in southern Marion County, he needs to coordinate transportation and damage control for the long, heavy loads on county roads.

The commissioners approved a road and bridge purchase of 4,000 tons of road surface cold mix with harder rock that doesn?t break down as fast at $70.25 a ton from High Plains.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette was not at the meeting because of illness, Holub said.

After looking at protests from residents who didn?t want their addresses changed from Lakeshore Drive to Lois Lane Street in the Wildin Subdivision at Marion County Lake to help avoid emergency ambulance personnel confusion, the commissioners decided to leave all addresses as they are.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the post office handles the addresses in stride because of the stability in carriers. But other delivery services sometimes are confused because of changeover in personnel.

The commissioners asked Steve Hudson, county lake superintendent, to confer with county attorney Susan Robson on how to handle persons with delinquent trailer utility payments at the lake.

Hudson said in some cases spouses have responded to delinquent bills by saying the death of a person has delayed payment, but they still remain behind.

County extension agent Rickey Roberts reviewed a report for the commissioners on accomplishments by the extension service in the county during the past year.

He said 200 young people and six community project leaders are involved in 4-H Clubs, he said, plus 135 students at Peabody who have participated in special activities.

Roberts said 4-H members develop lifelong skills that set them well ahead in life beginning at involvement at 7 years old and potentially continuing for the next 11 years.

The commissioners met with Robson for 10 minutes in executive sessions for attorney-client privilege; with health administrator Diedre Serene for personnel for 10 minutes; and with Brandy McCarty, EMS director, for 10 minutes.

McCarty said Ron Mueller has been named the new EMS chief at Tampa.