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HARRISON – The open session of the July 2 Clare County Road Commission meeting was consumed largely by public comments and CCRC responses. The first person to speak was Dan Fitzpatrick, who started out by saying it was interesting what he had been seeing in the local papers.
“The whole reason this whole building and everything exists is road maintenance,” he said. “We’re not seeing any of that, and for people to say in the papers that there are no complaint calls – I know of hundreds of them.”
Commissioner Tim Haskin refuted that statement saying: “We answer every single call that comes in. On the website – and everybody has cell phones – my number, Dick’s number, Karen’s number, is on the web page.”
Commissioner Karen Hulliberger added that she gets calls all the time at her business.
“We try and address everything,” she said. “We don’t want all this going on.”
Fitzpatrick went on to say the people in the county have had it and are [upset], that the roads are not being maintained, and the commissioners should go out and look.
That comment was met with “bologney,” “not true,” and by commissioner Richard Haynack saying that “Recently, the weather’s been against us, for the last few months.”
“For 25, 30 years I’ve been coming to these meetings, and nothing’s happened,” Fitzpatrick said. “You’re delusional … saying everything’s hunky-dory and everything’s going fine – people do not agree with that. You all know that it’s not so.”
Engineer technician Allan Leonard noted that most of the people who come to the meetings are upset about something, but that 95% of the county is happy.
“We’ve got all kinds of records on road conditions, and ours are top notch compared to most counties,” Leonard said.
Aric McNeilly, road maintenance foreman, responded by saying that with all the hard work the road commission does, that it was very disrespectful for Fitzpatrick to speak as he had.
Haskin said that, at the end of the day, the CCRC has a $7 million budget and $300 million in needs.
Fitzpatrick said that’s what has been said for 40 years and nothing ever changes. Haskin replied that Fitzpatrick was not going to change it, and Fitzpatrick said he knew Haskin wasn’t going to change it.
Then, when Haskin asked what Fitzpatrick wanted him to do, the response was quick: “Resign. You need to get out.”
“We’re rolling 20 trucks a day, every single day,” Haskin said. “Everything else is ‘arm waving.’ We have 20 trucks and we roll every piece of equipment every day.”
David Bondie, assistant road maintenance foreman, said that when a road is bladed Monday, it rains Tuesday and it needs to be bladed again.
“It’s constant,” he said.
At that point Fitzpatrick took issue with the CCRC’s ability to properly blade in the first place, and the board moved on.
The next person to speak was Valentine Yoder of Sheridan Township, who described himself as Fitzpatrick’s neighbor.
“Basically, I tend to agree with him pretty much,” Yoder said. “The road’s in pretty tough shape. I’ve talked to Aric and Dave, and I just came up here to remind them they told me they was going to put a crown in the roads this year, and I’m not seeing that.”
The road foremen said there had been work in both Sheridan and Arthur townships and that road graders had been told to put in a grade of 4% to 6%.
“We’re trying to make changes,” Bondie said. “We know the past is the past, but we’re trying to make changes for the future. Twenty-five years ago – I can’t fix that.”
He said work was being done on Adams, Athey, Brand and Dover.
“We’re trying to get all those, because it’s solid clay,” Bondie said. “And we’re trying to get a sandier [mix].”
McNeilly said crews are trying to get the clay covered and build up the roads, and then have that followed by an excavator to ditch where there’s no drainage.
Valentine Yoder reiterated that he would like to see more substantial road crowning.
“You’re in charge, but I’m just here to say we really need to get that water off,” he said. “Because now it’s standing in the road.”
“We’re trying,” McNeilly said. “But when it rains every other day, you’ve got to blade every road in the whole county, so they can’t spend a lot of time shaping one road. They’ve got to get down two or three passes and get to the next road.”
McNeilly said that from the outside, it seems nothing is happening, but he assured Yoder that the CCRC is doing the best it can with the crew it has. He said the CCRC’s job list includes15 culverts that need replacing. McNeilly also said that proper reshaping of roads is being done but only at a rate of a couple miles per week, because it takes so long to do.
Haynack added that, much like large tractors have been unable to get onto the fields, the weather has caused the same problem for graders working the roads.
Bill Henry of Sheridan Township spoke of a section of Surrey Road east of Tobacco Road.
“If you go much over 10 mph there, you’re going to bounce right off into the ditch,” he said.
McNeilly said that a joint project with the township had been planned for that road this year, but the township had canceled it. Haskin clarified that the township had tabled the project, and that it could be reinstituted in the future.
Henry said that even if the big water holes on that road could be drained, it would help a lot.
Also addressing the board was Pat Adams, vice president of Cranberry Lake Association. He commented on the ease of using the CCRC website, and also stated the roads haven’t changed much since he first came to the area in 2015.
“I’ve been asking a lot of people about how many of them have been contacting you guys,” Adams said. “And I only had one person say they contacted you.”
He said he had been working for a couple years at trying to get the roads graveled, taken care of, redone, and trying to get a price quote, adding that he understands those things all take time. Adams also voiced appreciation for the quick response he received after sending out a letter the previous evening.
“I know you guys hear from me a lot,” Adams said. “But I’ll be coming back every two weeks until my area’s fixed, because that’s what I learned [working in government for 20 years].”
He noted a specific sandy corner in his subdivision which had been getting graded in only one direction, resulting in the building up of a “sand pit” where Adams said kids are falling with their bikes and getting hurt. Adams also noted that two problem spots being caused by garbage trucks were repaired within a day or two of his informing the CCRC, and he expressed his appreciation.
“I do have a few heartaches with the road commission,” Adams said. “But I also like to give praise where praise is due.”
At 9:30 a.m. the meeting went into closed session at the request of the board for a strategy and negotiation session connected with the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement (Open Meetings Act Section 8(c) of the Open Meetings Act).
At 10:31 a.m. the board resumed open session and closed the meeting at 10:33.
After the meeting, commissioner Hulliberger told the Cleaver that the CCRC workshop meeting scheduled for 11 a.m. would be focused on posting to fill the vacant manager position: settling on the wording and what the CCRC is looking for. She said this would be the first discussion, but the goal would be to fill the position as soon as possible.