The Barton County Commission Monday morning heard complaints from residents along the 1030 block of NE 10th Avenue in South Homestead Township about the condition of the road in front of their homes. Recent rains have exacerbated the problem, but they said this has been an ongoing issue for years.
“The road is atrocious at best,” said Michael Vendetti. With his medical condition, he is fearful ambulances can’t get to his home, just east of Hoisington and south of K-4.
Technically, the maintenance of such roads is the responsibility of the township, but the residents said they have complained to the township board to no avail.
“For some reason, they think that we can throw sand on the road and fix it,” he said, “But, when you have no sub-base, you have nothing. And that’s what we have, big ruts.”
“Our road is impassable at times,” said Dan Simpson, a neighbor of Vendetti. “During this last rain, there were two days we were unable to get out of our driveways because of the mud.”
There was no traffic on the road except for tractors and large trucks.
“This road has been deteriorating for many years with little or no maintenance,” Simpson said. “It has been seven years since they put sand on my road.”
In fact, he said, township crews sanded the stretch on both sides of his property, but not in front of it. “This is the type of maintenance we have out there, we have very poor maintenance.”
They contact township representative and “they laugh at us,” he said.
Years ago, commissioners toured the location, Simpson said. “It has never been corrected. It continues to get worse.”
The commission may not control the townships, but, “you control the county, that’s what we elected you for” he said. “I’m not criticizing any of you, it’s just the procedure we have to go through.”
They just want to see their road maintained as well as the roads in front of the township officials’ houses, Simpson said. “We would like the same kind of treatment that they give their own roads.”
Vendetti said he has to take 28 pills each day, and he is tired of having to come into town to complain. “It’s hard when you have a medical condition,” he said.
“You’re having to worry if an ambulance can get to me. I’ve had several times I’ve needed an ambulance,” he said. “Let’s quit playing games with this.”
Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said he’s has seen spot, and it is a problem.
“I’m to the point that I don’t know what to do either,” he said. “I think we need to sit down as a county and try to see what we can do. These people here are in a situation where they need to be able to get out of their area at any time.”
South Homestead officials include Clerk Brandon Yeakley, Treasurer Randy Strickland and Trustee Gary Sidman. Sidman was present Monday morning, and Schremmer said he was doing the best he could to make improvements. “He has tried. But he has to have more than one person to get something done.”
“I’m here to see where the problems are,” Sidman said. “If I don’t even know where the problems are. I can’t even attempt to fix them.”
And even when he does, “I don’t always get it done. I have arguments with people.”
“We have ongoing problems in that area, and a lot of is because of where it is located,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. When it is in or near Cheyenne Bottoms, it is a challenge to keep roads in good condition.
“We cannot tell the township what to do,” Schartz said. “However, if we determine the road is impassable or is not being kept to a minimum level of service, we can go in and fix the road and charge it back to the township and I think that is kind of where we are right now.”
“Today would be a good time to discuss this so they can go home and rest. They pay their taxes, they deserve this,” Schremmer said. They stayed around after the meeting to visit with commissioners about their concerns.
“We can discuss it further,” Schartz said. “Maybe we can make some positive changes.”