State inspectors took a close look at the Dismal bridge on the Alexandria to Dismal Road over Smith Fork Creek Monday and the findings were not good.
Road Supervisor Kenny Edge says damage to the bridge is "critical" but not serious enough to close it, although weight limits may have to be posted. "I met with the state bridge inspectors Monday and they took one of those huge trucks that sets on the bridge with a long arm and they went back under it and took pictures of it all the way across. They said it did have critical damage to it but they felt like it was safe for local traffic, small vehicles. But they said if it was a main road and a lot of trailer trucks were on it I might wind up having to close it."
"They're going to send all of the information to the engineers in Nashville and they'll get back with me and tell me what safe bridge limit sign to put on it and what I may have to do in the future to try to eliminate some of the problem as far as the danger part of it because a lot of the rebar, which is the steel inside of the beams, are exposed and concrete jumped off of those beams due to that heat all the way across under there for approximately thirty feet. It looks terrible but I feel like it's safe for small cars and local traffic and they (inspectors) felt like it would be alright for the school bus and our (county road department) trucks to travel but they said the engineers will get back with me and tell me exactly how many tons it's safe to carry and what to post it."
Last Wednesday, someone set fire to the driftwood and debris underneath the bridge, which had washed up and lodged there during the May floods. County Fire Chief Donny Green said members of the Liberty and Temperance Hall stations and a tanker truck from the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department rushed to the scene upon receiving the call and when they arrived, firefighters found a roaring blaze coming from under the bridge. Firefighters even had to use a floating pump to draw water from the creek to help put out the blaze. Green said the fire was so intense that it caused chunks of concrete to break apart from the bridge.
The $1.1 million bridge was completed two years ago. Edge says it was built with eighty percent federal funds, fourteen percent from the highway department budget, and six percent from the county general fund.
Last week, Edge estimated that the repair costs could run as much as half a million dollars and he won't know how to deal with it. Edge says he'll have to do what the state mandates. "There's probably two or three ways to do it (repair the bridge) but you've just got to do what you're told to do through the state on a bridge that's twenty feet or longer. There could be another pier put under it from where the good part is on out to support it and then work on the thirty or forty foot section that got damaged or you could take down one third of it and go back with it (replace) like the original. I don't have that choice. I've got to do what's passed down to me (by the state)."
A 32 year old Dowelltown man is accused of going to the same farm on Banks Pisgah Road twice within five days and committing thefts
Sheriff Patrick Ray says Aron Dewayne Ponder of Old Mill Hill Road, Dowelltown was arrested on Tuesday, September 7th and charged with a first offense of driving on a suspended license, theft of property over $500, and theft of property over $1,000. He will be in court on September 30th and his bond totals $41,000.
Sheriff Ray says on Tuesday, September 7th, a deputy saw Ponder operating a motor vehicle on New Home Road and having prior knowledge that his license were suspended, the officer stopped the automobile. After making the traffic stop, the deputy checked through central dispatch and learned that Ponder's license were suspended for failure to pay child support on November 15th, 2008.
In regard to the thefts, Sheriff Ray says on Thursday, September 2nd Ponder allegedly went to the farm on Banks Pisgah Road and stole a tobacco setter, horse drawn mower, a single wing turning plow, a trail behind turning plow, along with various other types of turning plows with a total value of 825.00.
Ponder allegedly went back to the same farm on Tuesday, September 7th and stole a 1959 Ford pickup truck, valued at $1,500. Ponder allegedly sold the truck to a scrap yard.
In a separate investigation, 18 year old Terry L. Jones of Chapman Hollow Road, Dowelltown is charged with burglary and theft of property. Jones will be in court October 7th and he is under a $7,500 bond.
Sheriff Ray says on Saturday, September 11th Jones was arrested for entering a vehicle on Church Street in Dowelltown and stealing a portion of the radio. Jones allegedly confessed to the crimes, stating that he had a radio just like this one and needed the piece he stole for his own radio. The value is less than $500.
Meanwhile, 32 year old Phillip Edward Miranda of Cecil Hale Road, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving under the influence and a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond is $5,000 and his court date is October 7th.
Sheriff Ray says on Saturday, September 11th a deputy, while on routine patrol, saw a vehicle on Short Mountain Highway that appeared to be abandoned. After stopping to check, the officer saw a man inside the automobile who was apparently passed out. The deputy opened the door and had to yell several times to awaken the man, identified as Miranda. The officer also detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on the man's person. Miranda submitted to several field sobriety tasks and performed poorly on all. He was also very unsteady on his feet. Miranda further submitted to a blood alcohol test.
During Miranda's arrest, the officer ran a computer check which revealed that Miranda was charged with his first DUI offense on June 17th, 2008. He was convicted on August 20th, 2008 in DeKalb County. The background check also revealed that his drivers license were revoked on February 22nd, 2010 for failure to file security after an accident on October 4th, 2009 in DeKalb County. Miranda was first charged with driving on a revoked license on October 3rd, 2009 and he was convicted March 31st, 2010 in DeKalb County.