Wednesday, January 3, 2007

County agrees to plow East Magic Road

Spud Patch Road also added to new route

Express Staff Writer

Two rural roads will be added to the county's snowplowing routes following persistent efforts from an East Magic Reservoir resident who claimed he and his neighbors were being treated like second class citizens because of the lacking service.

The Blaine County Commission unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that will create second-day plowing on the majority of East Magic and Spud Patch roads, both of which are located south of Timmerman Junction in the south county.

Nate Norris, owner of East Magic Resort and a resident of the small enclave of cabins along the east shore of the reservoir, ignited the issue in early December when he sent a letter to the Blaine County Commission.

The letter, which was signed by more than 20 full- and part-time residents of East Magic, questioned why the county wouldn't plow all or part of the 4.5 mile road leading to their remote hamlet.

"If we were wealthy homeowners or rich farmers they would have no problem plowing our road," Norris said in early December.

Dale Shappee, supervisor of the Blaine County Road and Bridge Department, drafted the resolution that proposed adding East Magic and Spud Patch roads to the plow route. Both roads would be categorized as Priority 3, meaning they will receive second-day plowing.

Spud Patch Road travels east from Highway 75 just south of Timmerman Junction; East Magic Road travels to the west.

When Shappee first introduced the resolution to the County Commission in mid-December, Commissioners Tom Bowman and Dennis Wright both expressed concerns about the liability of servicing East Magic Road, mainly because the last mile is steep and considered dangerous. Commissioner Sarah Michael was absent.

"That area was never made for year-round habitation," Bowman said in December. "I'd be much more comfortable to leave it like it is."

Wright suggested that a sign warning travelers that the road is steep, dangerous and not maintained by the county would relieve any liability.

Norris said he would plow the final mile on his own and pay for the sign, which will cost about $200.

During Tuesday's hearing, Ellen Nasvik-Dykhouse, who lives on Spud Patch Road, said she feels like "we have become ghettoized or second-class citizens" because the county does not plow the road. She urged the commission to pass the new resolution.

Bowman said he has "been resistant" to the resolution but agreed to support it because "you guys have been persistent and (Shappee's) recommending it."

"I just want to be responsive to the public," he added.

Wright said he didn't think the resolution was a "big deal" and suggested revisiting the issue next year to make sure it is working and not costing the county too much.

Shappee said the added cost of plowing about 5 extra miles of road would be minimal.

Michael said she would pass the resolution as long as Norris understood that she would not consider enhancing the road's status from Priority 3 in the future.

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