Commissioners again deny help installing culvert

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Shephard says his stretch of Old 237 is county's responsibility

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - A man who made a second pitch Monday for help getting the county to install a culvert along Old Indiana 237 isn't going to get it from the county commissioners.

Walter Shephard, 5992 Old Indiana 237, said Tuesday he doesn't know if he'll continue to pursue an effort to get the culvert installed.

As The News reported April 12, Shephard said he was told in 2008 if he bought a culvert, the county would put it in. The county commissioners told him his stretch of what used to be a state highway was handed off to Cannelton when the new Indiana 237 was built. He contends, however, that because he pays taxes to the county, and not to Cannelton, the county is responsible for the easement fronting his property.

"Whoever gets the property taxes is responsible for replacing the culvert," Shephard told the commissioners at their regular meeting Monday. He told them a man living across the road from him is within the Cannelton city limits, and his property taxes go to that city. When a road is transferred to the county, "the easement follows the deed," he said, "so, therefore, whoever gets the property taxes is responsible for the roadside. That would make the Perry County Highway Department responsible for replacing my culvert."

Commissioner Jody Fortwendel reminded Shephard, whose father Merle Shephard was also at the meeting, that county attorney Chris Goffinet had researched the matter and found that the road along Walter Shephard's property belongs to Cannelton.

Commissioner Bill Amos said he'd talked to Goffinet earlier in the day, and he maintained that the county is not responsible for the road. He'd said at the April meeting Cannelton is responsible for .68 mile of the road. A map Goffinet provided to The News Tuesday shows that distance is measured from Indiana 66.

If the county is not responsible for the section of road, why did a county crew mow the grass along it near the end of May, Walter Shephard asked.

Amos said Cannelton and county workers "normally overlap each other ... sort of help each other out."

The commissioners can't do the work, he again told the Shephards.

Goffinet told The News Tuesday the county has no obligation to put the culvert in. County Highway Superintendent Ed Feix said in April his crews can help landowners with small projects, but not larger ones that would involve a lot of time and manpower.

Goffinet provided The News a copy of County Ordinance 0-C-02-5, which states, "The costs of a culvert or pipe and all fill and labor shall be at the expense of the landowner, except the county may provide labor and equipment for installation of driveway culverts or field entrances."

The county has no legal right, however, to install a culvert along a city-owned road, the lawyer said.

"I feel like it's a big cost and they're trying to pass the buck," Walter Shephard said Tuesday. He'd talked to Cannelton Mayor Smokey Graves by phone a couple of times, but "he flat-out told me the city gets no revenue (for the portion of road) because I don't pay city taxes."