Nubbin Hill residents unhappy over bridge

By Staff, 09/11/19 10:27 AM

PRESCOTT – Residents from the Nubbin Hill Community were on hand for the September meeting of the Nevada County Quorum Court, to voice their displeasure about the bridge over Cold Run Creek being closed.

Nevada County Judge Mark Glass explained the bridge closing had nothing to do with the county, but was done by order of the state’s Department of Transportation (DoT). Glass again told the residents he’d lobbied to have the bridge stay open as a one-lane bridge, but was shot down by the DoT.

He told them he’s been in contact with the right-of-way coordinator for the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) and is currently waiting for the court order for the plans so the county can proceed and start talking to landowners in the affected area. He again pointed out this is basically a new project as the plans are having to be redrawn to take in less land, which was the holdup three years ago when the project was first proposed. Property owners in the area were unwilling to sign easements which would have allowed the bridge to have been built already.

Questions were raised about how long it will take to get the project started. Glass said once the county gets the right-of-ways signed, the AHTD will advertise bids for 30 days, awarding the bid after this. Once a contractor has been hired, it will take two to four weeks for construction to begin. He said the AHTD has told him it will let the bids even if the water lines haven’t been moved by then.

Residents said they don’t need a “giant bridge”, and argued the county had the money to build a new bridge in 2013. Glass said the money could have probably been found then, but the bridge proposed will cost the county 2 percent.

It didn’t matter, as residents argued the bridge should have been repaired before now, and could still be. They argued it could take longer if the county has to take the land in question under eminent domain.

Glass said he’ll contact the landowners once the court order comes through and he knows exactly how much land will be affected. When questions were raised about using the other side of the road, he said the same issues apply there, only utility poles would have to be moved as well, and easements would still have to be obtained by the property owners.

The new bridge should be wider as it will have four-foot shoulders on each side of the approach. The current bridge is 20-feet wide with no shoulders on either side.

It was suggested Glass hold community meetings in the area between meetings of the court to keep the residents up to date on what’s going on. He agreed. It was also suggested by Justice of the Peace Pat Grimes residents call the AHTD every day asking about what’s being done.

The question came up about the bridge at 5-Way Marker. Glass said it will be finished this week and ready for traffic by Monday as a brace is being added in the middle of the it. This brace, he said, will allow for more tonnage.

In other business, Glass said the paperwork for May’s storm has been completed and submitted to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) for approval. He said the county should get around $69,000 from it. Paperwork is also being done for the July storm that undid all the work done after the May storm. Glass told the court the disaster was $300,000 short of meeting the requirements as a federal disaster and will be paid by the state for work done.

Five counties were affected by the July storm, with $3.9 million in damages occurring. Glass said the minimum for federal aid was $4.2 million and research is being done to see if these counties can’t come up with another $300,000 to meet the qualifications. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pays 75 percent back to counties, while the state only pays 35 percent. Still, Glass said, the county should get between $250,000-300,000 for the two combined.

In order to help pay for work done after the July storm, the county cashed in a certificate of deposit for $89,000. The idea, at the time, was to put money back into a CD when the county is reimbursed..

Glass told the court he’s also reached out to Congressman Bruce Westerman’s office about this. He added he’ll be attending a meeting on Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. with other area county judges and representatives from the AHTD, but isn’t sure what the meeting’s about. He speculated it concerns looking for a way to get the disaster declared on the federal level.

The court approved the 2017 audit, which showed two items resulting in the county being written up. One concerned the sale of the 911 building as two public auctions failed to generate the minimum bid price required, and another concerned a truck purchased by the county. Glass said unless there are repeat offenses, these write ups don’t amount to much more than a slap on the wrist.

The court approved resolutions for the 2020 census. One was for the county’s participation in the census with the other approving a census committee.

Herb Langston, the local veteran’s representative, updated the court on what he’s been doing and his plans for the future. He talked about having to attend classes and pass tests to become certified and learned there are 688 known veterans in Nevada County.

During the millage vote, he asked those coming to vote early if they were veterans and added another 15 to the tally. He plans on going through the county, asking around and trying to locate every person who’s served.

He also plans to hold a Veteran’s Day parade on Nov. 11, and has met with the Prescott School District to get students involved. Langston wants members of the football team to push the wheelchairs of veterans unable to walk in the parade, and have the band play as well. The courthouse, he added, will be decorated in bunting, at no cost to the county. There will also be an essay contest for students with the winner getting a $50 gift certificate and their teacher getting a $35 gift certificate.

Langston told the court he’s already got two motorcycle clubs to agree to participate in the parade and the Nevada County Master Gardeners will also have a float. “I hope to have the biggest parade Nevada County has ever seen for Veteran’s Day.”

His long-range plan is to have a monument built for those from Nevada County who died in the wars since World War II. He’s solicited the help of Peggy Lloyd to find these names. This, he told the court, will be a three-to-five year project.