Some Bayou George residents were probably happy to see the sunshine today, hoping it will dry-out their water-logged roads. The issue came to a head last week, when school bus drivers said the roads were too damaged to travel. Residents were hoping to get some answers from the county tonight, but county officials say their hands are tied.
It was standing room only in the Bayou George Community Center with some residents standing outside waiting for answers. "We just need some kind of proposal - right now we have nothing!" Residents say the roads haven't been properly maintained for decades, but this summer’s rains pushed the situation over the edge.
"There should have been somebody out there to inspect the road to make sure it was up to standard and I don't think that happened. Now the county is talking about the residents have to pay,” said resident Jon Valentine, “I mean, I'm a totally and permanently disabled military veteran, you know. Why should I have to pay for something that some elected official dropped the ball on and failed to do their job with?"
But county officials say the roads are privately owned, so they can't touch them.
"It is owned by an individual, Mr. Stewart I suppose, so it's private property,” Bay County Commissioner Guy Tunnell said. “The county can't do anything on private property."
That answer didn’t sit well with residents.
"We pay our taxes, fix our roads. Help us with our roads,” said resident Sandra Fox, “a lot of people out here use their own money to try and fix these roads, we just can't do it. We need help."
Residents would have to get the county the deeds to the roads and even then county officials say the residents would have to help pay for any paving.
"If we're gonna have to pay to get them paved, I don't necessarily agree with that, but at this point, I'm willing to do what I have to do because I won't plan on leaving," said resident Jennifer Arnold.
The county laid out 2 options for the residents. One would involve the shared cost of paving. The other will allow a private company to do maintenance work as often as necessary.