Over 130 concerned citizens attended the Jackson County Commission’s community meeting in Bryant Monday evening, and many of them left unhappy.
The citizens of the area requested the meeting to get an update on the progress being made on County Road 93. The road has been closed since late February, when floods caused a mountain slide that damaged the road.
Commission Chairman Tim Guffey said he was proud so many people attended the meeting. He said in previous community meetings, the highest number of people that showed up was about 45.
He understands the citizens’ frustrations but said most of them do not realize the county’s financial situation. Guffey said he handed out about 120 information booklets and said maybe those would help people understand the county doesn’t have any money.
District 4 Commissioner Mike Sisk said he also understands what the people are going through and that the county is trying to come up with funding. He said the commission’s hands are tied at this point.
District 3 Commissioner Melinda Gilbert said she knows the citizens of the area want to see things happen, but they are dealing with the federal and state governments, so things are not going to happen very quickly. She said the county would work on the issue as soon as possible.
District 1 Commissioner Danny Rich said if the county had the money to fix the road, it would have already been repaired.
County Engineer Jonathan Campbell made a presentation explaining why the mountain slide occurred, what repairs would need to happen to make the road able for travel and the steps his department have to complete before the county can receive Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars (FEMA) to repair the road.
Campbell also mentioned there are two other roads in Jackson County that have priority over County Road 93. County Road 17 has higher traffic than County Road 93, and the detour is much longer than the detour for County Road 93. Campbell said the slide was worse on County Road 17, as well. The other road that has priority over County Road 93 is County Road 189. County Road 189 goes up Summerhouse Mountain in Bridgeport, and it is the only way up and down the mountain.
Campbell also said it would be about two years before work could begin on County Road 93 because the county would have to wait on FEMA reimbursements to come in. Several citizens left the meeting after Campbell made that statement.
Guffey said County Road 93 does not see much traffic.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to say that it’s probably one of the least used roads in Jackson County,” said Guffey.
He also said it only takes “a few minutes” for people that live near County Road 93 to get to the main highway.
The meeting quickly got out of control. One local citizen said the meeting was “ridiculous.” Others said there was no point in having the meeting because the commission did not have answers to the problem.
With so many people at the meeting, it was difficult for the commission to hear complaints and difficult for the citizens to hear the commission’s answers. Guffey said he would make sure there would be microphones at the next community meeting.