McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 19, 2012

County to 'cease' roadwork

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — County workers continued to grade a platted county road that leads to   fishing hole after an agreement was made between the Pittsburg County Commissioners and the district attorney’s office to ‘cease action’ until a final decision was made to close the road.

The letter from District 18 First  Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull reveals an agreement with District 1 County Commissioner Gene Rogers that no more road work would be done on Low Water Canyon Road.
However as recently as July a county worker did work on the road, according to Gene Rogers commission chairman.
Rogers said he went out to check on the road after a recent commissioner’s meeting. During the Sept. 10 meeting former county commissioner Bill Webber alleged that county workers tore down several trees and damaged a drainage pipe while using road funds provided by the State of Oklahoma to build an illegal road on land owned by the Federal Government and managed by the United States Corps of Engineers to access Low Water Dam Road.
During the meeting Rogers said he didn’t order any work to be done in that area.
However, after visiting the area in question soon after the meeting, Rogers said one of his men did work on the road.
“Yes, one of my men did work on the road, without my permission,” Rogers said. “He’s been written up.”
According the April 20 letter to Attorney Jim Miller from Richard Hull District 18 First Assistant District Attorney, “There will be no further county action taken on the Pittsburg County Road (Low Water Dam Road) pending the final disposition of the Petition to Close (Low Water Dam Road).”
Leading up to the letter was a April 16 commissioners meeting. During the meeting commissioners faced a meeting room filled to capacity as an agenda item to close the road was to be discussed.
Describing incidences of illegal hunting, trash dumping and dead animal dumping along with missing cattle, several residents told the commissioners the road should be vacated.
Attorney Miller along with his clients and several Pittsburg County   workers spoke out both for an against the closure.
Miller told the commissioners during the meeting that working on the road was not a good use of county tax dollars.
“You want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild and maintain a road that has been abandoned for decades just so a handful of people can drive to their favorite fishing hole,” Miller said.
Also during the April meeting county employee Mike Grivette told the commissioners said he had  worked on the road several years ago and he wanted the road to stay open.
“If they close it they will take away our hunting and fishing,” Grivette said. 
Meanwhile in the letter from the district attorney’s office, Hull states that the road will remain ‘status quo’ until the final disposition by the Pittsburg County Comissioners.” I am hopeful that with the status (Low Water Dam Road remaining in status quo ... it will help alleviate any further tensions between the parties.”
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith said the road is currently open and will remain open. He said that the commissioners do not plan to make a disposition on the petition to close the road in the near future. “It’s just going to remain as it is, open.”

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone. Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.