Commission: Road Crew Doesn’t Have To Take Abuse

By Mark Evans

mevans@stegenherald.com

Three weeks after being sworn in, Ste. Genevieve County commissioners told road and bridge foreman Scott Schmieder that he and his crew did not have to take being sworn at.

Schmieder informed the commissioners that on several occasions, residents of Straughn Road had cussed out him and road crew members who were doing work on the roads.

One incident was when the crew was trimming branches from trees. Before the men could pick up limbs and branches they had just cut and then feed them into a chipper, a resident assailed them with a barrage of abusive and foul language. Schmieder noted that the road was properly blocked off and safety precautions taken.

Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson told Schmieder that neither he nor his crew had to put up with “vulgar cussing.”

Schmieder said he has told his crew members to have the  residents either call him or the commission with complaints.

Other times the road crew has been verbally abused over ditches  being clogged with leaves.

“We have 200 miles or so of roads and leaves fall off trees in the fall and get in ditches,” Nelson said, adding that the crews do their best to keep them cleaned out.

He also added that he has cleaned his own ditches out before, to keep heavy rains from doing damage on his property.

Nelson and fellow commissioners Karen Stuppy and Randy Ruzicka expressed appreciation for the crews politely taking the abuse.

“We tell them not to retaliate and they don’t,” Nelson said.

“I think it comes down to, ‘Do you want it cleaned out or not?’” Ruzicka said, referring to the property owners.

Nelson added that it was almost tempting to consider abandoning Straughn Road.

“It’s hard to abandon a road,” he said. “But, for our workers to put up with cussing and abuse, it’s almost tempting.”

Nelson explained to the two new commissioners that Straughn Road was one of the last roads paved before the 2003 road tax was passed that began paying for paving. At the time it was paved, property owners along a road still had to contribute 22.5 percent of the cost. He said requests have been made since to get their money refunded.

“Your guys don’t have to sit there and listen to vulgar language,” Nelson told Schmieder.

Schmieder also reported that he will need to put a new drainage pipe in behind the road shed, near Weingarten. He said, in addition to doing work on Straugn Road, his crew has been cleaning leaves out of ditches and cutting limbs.

He also said that Hawn Park Road has three pipes that need to be replaced. He said they should really be steel pipes.

Schmieder also discussed pipes for Coffman Road. He was able to find squash pipe for $42.80 per foot. He said it needs a squash, or elliptical pipe, which carries a greater volume of water than a less expensive round pipe.

“It’s got to have it,” Ruzicka agreed,

Pricing for squash pipe for French Village Road received a less enthusiastic response. It came back with an $89.85 per foot price tag.

Schmieder said he will instead check into getting 36-inch plastic pipe for it.

Schmieder also reported meeting with the property owner on a curve on Hager Road that needs adjusting. He would like to widen the sharp curve and clear brush to allow better visibility at the dangerous “90-degree curve” as he called it. It was agreed that it would be fine for road crew personnel to help the man do the trimming, since it is a safety issue.

Schmieder also discussed a low-water bridge on East Castor Road. Nelson suggested a box culvert might be the best replacement.

It was also reported that railings have been installed on the revamped Franklin Bridge near St. Mary.

Later, after Schmieder had left, Lawrenceton Cutoff Road came up gain. It was agreed that it needs attention.

“Let’s get the ball rolling and get it done,” Stuppy said.

Nelson said that Schmieder would need to do some prep work on it first and that it would be mid or late March before bids could be requested.