Marion County roads need work, more to it though

Not only do the residents of Marion County say that the roads of the county need work, Marion County Road Engineer Brice Goebel, would agree.

“I’ve only been here (in the position) since June 4. I’ve got tremendous amounts of rainfall, large amounts of very intense amounts that have exacerbated the problem of ditches being full, drainage problems, trees being in there, and just maintenance issues that all need to be addressed. And the rain just came down all over the county. I’ve just been hit everywhere. Mostly up in the north and west part of the county but then all of that water goes south,” said Goebel.

Not only did Goebel come into a newly created position that would have been difficult given the condition of the roads, but he was quickly hit with major flooding in the first 30 days of the job. An already difficult job became almost impossible for him.

Yet, Goebel continues to remain hopeful and optimistic.

And really we are actually fortunate that we haven’t had more damage, flooding or even fatalities.That is what we have to focus on.

When they opened up the gates to let out the water from the reservoir, they were letting out less water than they were taking in. Most people don’t realize that if that reservoir wasn’t there, we would have lost Marion and there would have been hundreds of thousands of possible fatalities. You just kinda have to put things into perspective when it comes to how much rain we got.

We’ve started working on some roads.

I think in the past rock has been put in with promises to come back and fix it later but that didn’t happen for whatever reason. I don’t want that to happen anymore. We are trying to get roads fixed correctly.

Not only does Goebel have big plans, but his staff does as well. And Goebel spoke highly of them.

My guys are frustrated too because they want to do so much more than they can do. I still have big intentions and plans to get stuff done,” said Goebel. “I think the guys are excited to have somebody who wants to work with them. And I’m the same way. These guys know the roads. They know how to work with them. I just need to make sure that I lead them down the right paths.”

In regards to the area of Diamond and 140th to 150th, Goebel agrees that there are issues.

“I’ve went out and looked at that area, and there are lots of issues that need to be addressed that I’m looking at. There are no real obvious places for things to drain and it’s probably been that way for years,” said Goebel.

Goebel went on to say that the people that he has been talking to have been very understanding that they are trying to get to these spots and the main thing they have been doing all summer with these roads is to keep them open.

“We are trying to keep them access to their homes and their fields at all times. When people call in, I take that very seriously. I call almost every single one of them back, or have my roads supervisor Jesse Hamm call them back and help them immediately, but it’s still a lot with just so large of a county and limited resources,” Goebel said.

Another government agency working hard with road conditions to serve Marion County residents is the U.S. Postal Service.

“We work with the county requesting updates to help us with our jobs. We do have some deviation miles. Our routes are set up on dirt roads so if it’s muddy, we just have to go around. We have trouble, but everyone does,” said Becky Tibbetts, Postmaster for Hillsboro.

Tibbetts was very upbeat and positive.

“If we can deliver it, we will. On a normal rainy, mud day, we can deliver it. Now if it’s flooding, there are going to be some deliveries that get missed. But if my drivers can go around, they will do that. We try for delivery the best we can and usually we make it. It’s only those really bad days that we may have to do something different when they is standing water across a road. But anybody is going to have problems in that situation,” said Tibbetts.

Tibbetts explained that her staff does not typically have many issues. The only times that there have been problems were this summer with the flooding and even then, they had to simply alter how they did things.

“Any normal day and normal rainfall, we will get there and get our job done. Now, if you have a Durham flood of 4 foot in 10 minutes, that changes things! Otherwise, mail still goes through. The county works hard to make sure the buses and mail can get through,” said Tibbetts.

While many are frustrated with the roads overall, there are many residents, like Tibbetts, who see that the county employees are trying to make things better. And Goebel feels the support many times.

“Some people have been very appreciative and supportive. One lady today sent me a thank you and it helped a lot. A little bit goes a long way,” said Goebel.

But if people understand or not, Goebel, is asking for some more patience as he keeps on working hard.

“I have so much more planned, but I have to just figure out where to go next priority wise. I have to get the biggest bang for my buck. If I have a road that needs fixed that has five or six people on it, its going to probably have a higher priority than a road that has just one or two. And then we we have the gravel roads vs the dirt roads, too. We have so many dirt roads that are washed out too. These rains have literally changed the drainage area of Marion County,”

It seems fair to give the county a little more time given all that the rain has done in just one short summer. Time will show just how serious the county is about improving the roads that we have.

“Things have not gone as well as I have wanted them too. But if people give me some time, I think they are going to see some positive things. We are down now working on 160th east of Kanza and it is already showing a lot of progress,” said Goebel.

Editor’s note: This was the second part in a two part series looking at Marion County roads.