Residents of Elgin’s Jeffers Place subdivision are applauding Kershaw County’s decision to maintain their road.
“Even though we’re not in the county, we felt like they should be responsible for maintaining it,” Elton Lovett said.
Lovett, the first resident of the 3-year-old subdivision, sought the county’s help in keeping up the dirt road after Elgin’s annexation of Jeffers Place in 1987 left the road without maintenance last year.
Last month, County Council voted to maintain Jeffers Circle, according to Councilman A.T. “Hammy” Moak of Elgin. He said all members present voted in favor except council Chairman Austin M. Sheheen Jr.
Sheheen and County Administrator Walter Smith could not be reached for comment. Sheheen had said in December that the county couldn’t afford to set a precedent of maintaining roads in municipalities.
The county had quit scraping the road after the annexation. County officials said that made the town responsible for its upkeep.
But town leaders said they didn’t have any equipment to maintain the road. They said Jeffers Circle was the county’s responsibility, arguing that the county gets money from the state to maintain dirt roads.
In the meantime, the road became filled with deep potholes that residents said were damaging their cars and creating hazards for children and others. The problem was alleviated when the subdivision’s developer had the road graded earlier this year, but Lovett said new potholes are already developing.
Elgin Mayor Loretta Carr, who sent letters to Jeffers Place residents informing them of County Council’s decision, said she convinced council members that the road was the county’s responsibility. Council had voted against maintaining the road last year.
Mayor Carr said she told council that Kershaw County gets a 1 percent gasoline tax rebate from the state to be used in maintaining all dirt roads in the county — both inside and outside municipalities.
Moak said the information about the gasoline tax funds swayed council members. He said council’s action also was necessary because small towns don’t have the money to buy road maintenance equipment.
The decision probably will set a precedent, but should not be very expensive for the county, Moak said. The county has 800 miles of dirt roads, but only six miles of them are within municipalities, he said.
The county will put the road on its regular maintenance schedule and scrape it every month or six weeks, Moak said.
“If they do that, and stick to what they say, I’ll be satisfied,” Jeffers Place resident Sue Morris said.
County Council’s action apparently has cooled subdivision residents’ interest in seceding from Elgin. They had discussed trying to pull out of the town if that’s what it would take to get their road maintained.
Lovett said residents feel better about Elgin now that the maintenance of Jeffers Circle is ensured. But he said they expect Mayor Carr and council to follow through on plans to hire a police officer.
Elgin has not had a town police department in the 11 months since Mayor Carr fired Police Chief Jerry Dyson last April. That’s been a concern to residents, many of whom believe vandalism and break-ins have increased.
Town Council was supposed to consider amending the budget this week to provide money for a policeman’s salary. Lovett said if the town doesn’t hire a policeman soon, “We’re going to start raising hell until we get one.”