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County won't replace washed-out bridge - Ozark County Times: News

County won't replace washed-out bridge

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Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 3:06 pm

Ozark County commissioners have rejected an offer from Bob and Connie Bushner to split the costs to replace a washed-out bridge at Tecumseh.

The bridge, which spanned a creek at the edge of the Corps of Engineers park at Tecumseh, was washed away in September 2010 during heavy rainfall. Since then, the Bushners have had to use a boat or an ATV to go in and out of their home just north of the bridge site.

The creek empties into Norfork Lake at Tecumseh and is on Corps property.

According to eastern district commissioner T.J. Lewis, he had verbally agreed that the county would cover up to $20,000 using in-kind labor and equipment to help replace the bridge. "The county can't afford to pay out cash for this project," Lewis said. "But I was willing to go so far with in-kind labor and rock and stuff."

But now that offer is no longer on the table, Lewis said.

The Bushners, through attorney John Russo, sent the commissioners a written proposal in September that stated they would agree to pay half of the $53,950 they estimated it would cost to replace the bridge. That estimate came from a bid from Pace Construction Co.

In the letter dated Sept. 22, Russo said his clients were ready to enter into a contract with Ozark County to pay half of the $53,950. The letter also asked the county for a breakdown of costs and how much would be in the form of cash, materials, labor or other in-kind contributions.

Russo's letter also said that a petition asking people to sign if they thought the county should replace the washed-out bridge had garnered more than 160 signatures. The petition was "a measurement tool of public interest in the matter," the letter said. It was placed at stores in the area.

In discussing the matter Monday, Lewis said, "As far as I'm concerned, when they hired a lawyer all previous offers are off the table."

All three commissioners - Lewis, western district commissioner Greg Donley and presiding commissioner Dave Morrison - voted to not accept the Bushners' offer.

Russo said his clients are "extremely disappointed" in the county's decision. "When my clients purchased their retirement home, they did so knowing that they had a county easement and access. Now the county decides they won't have that," Russo said. "What happens to others throughout the county when our public officials decide they are not going to keep their word to maintain other roads and bridges?"

The county has maintained the road past the bridge and the bridge itself off and on over the years, even though it's all on Corps of Engineers property. An old wooden bridge spanned the gap for several years but was washed out in a September 2009 deluge.

The county spent about $10,000 on a makeshift culvert project, which failed in September 2010. The Bushners have been stranded ever since. There are no other residences past the bridge.

The Corps has washed its hands of the issue, saying it is a county problem.

"We've bent over backwards to try and help them out," Lewis said. "There's really not much left we can do."

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Shamrock Shady posted at 11:08 am on Sun, Aug 26, 2012.

    Shamrock Shady Posts: 45

    It seems the Bushners was just wanting to make sure the county would pay thier half which was first agreed upon. I dont see what the problem was unless the county hadnt planned on doing what they said in the first place. Why would the county have pulled the offer off the table unless the county hadnt planned on doing thier part to begin with.

    These elected officials are elected to serve the people and the needs of the county. It doesnt seem right to offer something and then pull it off the table. It seems all the Bushners wanted was to make sure everything was legal and not some shady agreement that really had no merit to begin with. Legal documents are just that, legal documents that hold people accountable to do what they say they are going to do. This doesnt look very good in my opinion and would like to hear what others in the county think. Everyone in the county should understand that elected officials can be replaced and its our right as americans to vote for those that serve our needs best.

  • Charles Ramsey posted at 7:47 am on Sat, Aug 25, 2012.

    currentresident Posts: 1

    Before 1851 all roads in the united states were private property. In 1851 the territorial government of the Oregon territories along with congress stated any Indian trail or wagon road in common use shall be defined as public land these roads cannot be closed nor can tolls be charged for the use of these roads. This is a precedent law that was later adopted by the entire United States. The law goes on to state roads can be moved only if the new road is of equal or greater quality the new road then becomes public land. The county did not need to build a bridge under the law but once the bridge existed they are required under federal law to maintain that bridge at an equal or better quality. Since the bridge is out the county or counties are now in violation of federal law. The county or counties surveyors are the highest authorities in the interpretation of road laws out side of congress. These laws are not in the United States code but are in the books that existed before the United States code however they are still in effect. http://www.westbrookent.com/RS-2477-road-Law.pdf

  • Todd Edmiston posted at 5:33 pm on Fri, Aug 24, 2012.

    edmiston Posts: 1

    Unreal. Do these people pay property taxes to the county? I wouldn't anymore. T.J. Lewis is a clown with a commissioner's placard on his desk.

  • patti nearing posted at 2:13 pm on Fri, Aug 24, 2012.

    portlandpatti Posts: 1

    this is another case of government stupidity !!!!!!!! The Busher's offered to pay 1/2 of the costs --- that is more than fair !!!!!! 15 years in their home and the County just says "Too Bad" ????? Glad I don't live in Mr Lewis's juristriction !!!!!

  • Arkangel Lambert posted at 2:03 pm on Fri, Aug 24, 2012.

    GreenFortune Posts: 1

    In the picture I saw the creek looks way smaller than this picture. Buy an old railroad flat car.........makes a terrific bridge and is I believe 40 ft long...!

  • linda moore posted at 1:31 pm on Fri, Aug 24, 2012.

    damaws Posts: 1

    If the county has been maintaining this area for the past several years and in fact did erect the signs posted in the picture then it looks like they have assumed responsibility for said property. So if i were on a jury in this matter Mr. T.J. Lewis i would say save the county some money and fix the bridge properly so it will not wash out again and save a ton of money on court costs. The Bushners should not have to pay any,but even offered to pay half. They are county citizens that have paid county taxes for the fifteen

    years they have lived there!! My god I am sure you could meet them half way and settle the matter. I am sure you know this story has gone nationwide and that does not put your county in a good light!

  • Mark Miller, Mark posted at 12:40 pm on Thu, Oct 20, 2011.

    brixeymark Posts: 1

    T.J. Lewis should reconsider his opinion. The fact that the Bushners hired an attorney is their business and their money. He is getting a better offer from them than most taxpayers could come up with. If the county perisits in this stalemate they will probably end up in court spending more money in legal fees (and ultimately will probably lose ) than it would cost to proceed and work with the Bushners.



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