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Poor road conditions are common complaint heard by commissioners

Complaints about the condition of county roads continue to be heard by Grady County commissioners, and on Tuesday night officials heard from residents of Rawls Road and Cassels Road located in south Grady.
A delegation of residents were led by Johnny Mack Butler, a resident of Cassels Road.
Butler claimed that ditches had not been cleaned out in a year or more, leaning trees that need to be removed are causing hazards, pipes beneath the road are damaged, and deep ruts in the road make it nearly impassible for cars.
Butler called for an ordinance that would prohibit the clear cutting of timber that eliminates scenic canopy roads and causes erosion of high ditches.
A Rawls Road resident complained that during rainy times school buses will not attempt to go down the road.
“We want some help,” Butler told commissioners.
Compounding the problems for the county’s road department is the age of county road equipment. One of the older motor graders has failed and due to its age County Road Superintendent Stanley Elkins is recommending leasing a new model rather than investing in high dollar repairs that would add up to more than the equipment is worth.
According to Elkins, more and more counties are leasing motor graders rather than purchasing them.
The county received quotes for leasing a Caterpillar motor grader and a John Deere model. The Caterpillar lease has hour restrictions, but the John Deere lease is unlimited hours.
Commissioner Keith Moye asked Tuesday night if Elkins has requested pricing for a motor grader equipped with the necessary equipment to maintain ditches.
The road superintendent said he had not, but he could.
A salesman present at the meeting Tuesday night indicated the cost of adding the ditching attachment would be approximately $50,000. A suggestion was made to lease purchase the sloper and at the end of the lease transfer it to the replacement equipment.
Commissioner LaFaye Copeland questioned how the lease payment of approximately $2,000 per month would be financed. Accounting Manager Donna Johnson said that the general fund is owed approximately $300,000 from the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant from Georgia Department of Transportation and that money could be used to make the lease payments.
Grady County Shop Superintendent Chris Dix also recommended the commission consider leasing motor graders in the future. “If something happens to it during the lease, it’s their problem, not ours,” Dix said.
Commission Chairman Ray Prince also noted that the board could better budget road department expenses. “You know what the lease payments will be. You can budget those exactly and you don’t have any surprises if it breaks down or tears up,” he said.
Dix noted that the motor grader the county is looking to replace is a 1996 model with over 24,000 hours on it. Chairman Prince said that was like a car with over 500,000 miles on it.
“The county definitely has gotten its money’s worth out of it,” Dix said.
The commissioners took no action Tuesday night, deciding to wait until they had additional information regarding the sloper attachment.
Chairman Prince asked Elkins if he has qualified personnel to operate the slopers and then commented that one of the county’s operators does not put the crown of the road in the middle of the road as it should be. Elkins said he had qualified, trained operators.
Chairman Prince said he would poll the members of the board and then ratify the decision at the next meeting.
The board also tabled a request from the road superintendent to purchase 1,500 tons of lime rock. Two bids were received, but Elkins recommended the higher bid.
According to county officials, the last time the county ordered lime rock from Conrad Yelvington Distributors the rock was determined to be unsatisfactory and returned. Conrad bid $46,200 while Southern Contractors bid $50,700.
Accounting Manager Johnson requested the matter be tabled so that she could research the spending request and identify the funding. Prince said the board would be polled and the decision ratified at the next meeting in order to expedite the purchase.
Grady County Commissioner June Knight asked Elkins Tuesday night for an update on the Old 179 North project. According to Elkins, his crews have about three miles left to widen, there are some cross drains to be extended and the county will need to contract for the box culvert extension. The road superintendent said the project should go out to bid very shortly and work on the full depth reclamation and resurfacing would begin later this year.
Commissioner Knight said she continues to receive lots of complaints about the road as well as other roads in her district. “Mizpah Road is in bad shape, not as bad as Open Pond Road, but close,” she said.
Commissioner Knight went on to say, “I believe Grady County has the worst roads in the world.” Road Superintendent Elkins admitted some are in bad shape but he challenged her on them being the worst anywhere.

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