The Crane Chronicle launched an investigation into county maintained roads with a single residence on them after being contacted by someone who lives in the northern part of the county who was concerned about a portion of Flat Creek not being completed, and the maintenance of the above mentioned roads by the county.
Following a Sunshine Request by The Crane Chronicle to County Commissioners it was learned that there are at least eighteen such roads within Stone County that have cost the county over $157,000 for the last seven years to maintain.
In 1972, the "Special Road Districts" were dissolved and replaced with the Stone County Highway Commission after the county adopted the Alternative Form Highway Commission. The roads in question that were maintained by the special road districts were "grandfathered" into the new county maintained system, according to the County Commission's attorney, Bill McCullah.
There are two roads that met the criteria in the southern part of the county. They are Sagebrush which is .28 mile and costs the county $6,190.80 and Joy Valley which is .33 mile and cost $5,603.22 to maintain for the last 6 years.
In the central part of the county there are four roads that lead to a single family house. The cost to maintain the following roads for the last fifteen years was: Ash Tree which is 0.839 miles and cost $36,895.74; Asher Camp 1.70 miles at a cost of $45,225.68; Gravel Stone 0.98 at $4,056.08 and Sky King Road which is 0.354 mile and cost $9,431.15 to maintain.
Twelve roads in the northern part of the county met the criteria and for the last seven years cost taxpayers the following. Grizzly Mountain which is 0.18 mile at a cost of $5,669.03; DeLong Way 0.25 - 419.00; A. C. Farm 0.17 mile -$4,859.53; Grace Lane 0.35 - $5,235.96; Helen Lane 0.35 - $3,987.41; Stillwater -$5,987.41; Helen's House 0.15 - $317.15; Rodeo 1.15 miles at a cost of $6,581.18; Jeanie 0.12 - $1,714.88; Attica which is 0.43 miles - $4,599.89; Sage Lane - 0.11 miles - $9,226.91 and Prairie which is .023 miles - $1,787.58
The problem with the roads being "grandfathered" in is there are no sunset clauses. When an agreement has a sunset, it means it has a definitive end date. Which means county funds to maintain these roads could go on for decades, if not longer.
When asked to provide documentation of when the county roads in question, which are essentially private driveways, became part of the new system and how much it has cost the county to maintain them since the new system was adopted - McCullah said, it would be "too time consuming."
If you use the formula provided by the county, it has cost the county almost $750,000 dollars over the last forty years to maintain the roads, which again, are essentially private driveways.
Commissioner's were unavailable for comment prior to going to press this week. A request to meet with commissioner to discuss the findings will take place on September 4th and we will have a follow up article in the September 13th edition of The Crane Chronicle.