Property near Dudleyville Road has been in Suzanne Wilder Black’s family for generations.

Access to property from County Shop Road is now hampered after a stream washed out a portion of the road. County officials said at the Tallapoosa County Commission meeting Monday only a small portion of the road is the county’s responsibility and not the washed out section. Black said it's been a county road for decades since the county has performed maintenance on it in the past.

“My family has owned these properties for more than 150 years,” Black said. “The county has done maintenance on this road going back to the 1980s.”

Alan Pearson owns property in the area too.

“I have been going out that road since the 1970s,” Pearson said. “Last year the county did work on it.”

Tallapoosa County engineer David Moore said he had no knowledge of work done to the road beyond the 4/10 of a mile from Dudleyville Road. From there county officials say it is a private road and not subject to county maintenance.

County Shop Road goes beyond the Tallapoosa County District 4 shop on County Shop Road to a cul de sac. It is one lane, tar and gravel. To get to the washout Black references, there is a one-lane dirt road coming off County Shop Road.

Black said maps from Tallapoosa County GIS show it as a county road. The GIS map shows a spur for County Shop Road that is paved and an unpaved portion going to the washout Black spoke to the commission about.

Tallapoosa County revenue commissioner Eva Middlebrooks said the tax maps use aerial photographs to help determine where roads are. The images are merged by a third party and Middlebrooks said the “GIS maps are for information purposes only. They are not gospel.”

Middlebrooks said easements and deeds recorded at the courthouse certify what is actually owned by the county.

Moore said those deeds show where the washout is not the county’s responsibility.

“The point where the road is washed away is not a county road,” Moore said. “It never has been. The deeds show the road stops at the county shop.”

Moore acknowledged until 2005 the county had an ordinance allowing the county to work on private roads but that changed.

“It was never a public road,” county attorney Thomas Radney said. “It became a crime in 2004 or 2005 to do work on private property.”

Black asked the commission to rethink the matter and consider the liability of someone driving into the hole. At the very least, she would like the county to push dirt into the 15-foot-wide, 10-feet-deep hole.

“I’m begging y’all to reconsider,” Black said. “It cuts us off. We can’t get to our properties.”

The commission did not commit to repairing the damaged road at Monday’s meeting.

Black and Pearson can file a request in circuit court requesting the work since the commission is taking no action to repair the washout. After Black and Pearson spoke to the commission, it continued to other items on the agenda.

The Tallapoosa County Department of Human Resources (DHR) building on Broadnax Street is now sold. The commission approved seeking bids for the facility after DHR made its move to its building on Highway 49 South.

“We got one bid,” Tallapoosa County administrator Blake Beck said. “R&I Properties bid $200,000 for it.”

The commission approved the sale of the old DHR building.

To help start correcting issues in the Tallapoosa County Courthouse, the commission approved the letting of a bid for water supply renovations at the courthouse.

“We are looking at a multi-phased project,” Beck said. “It will take three to six months. We have explained we want the bathrooms on the main or second floor to always be operable during the project when the building is open to the public.”

The commission entered an executive session to discuss economic development for 20 minutes. It took no action when it returned to its regular meeting.

Commissioner T.C. Coley was absent from the meeting.

In other action the commission:

• Approved minutes from the Aug. 10 meeting

• Approved warrants and purchase orders

• Authorized the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department to apply for an Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs law enforcement grant in the amount of $24,000 requiring no matching funds

• Approved an application for election expense reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses

• Authorized the execution of the Community Corrections Program contract for fiscal year 2021

• Approved annual bids for the county engineer’s office

• Approved the vacation of of the Trinity Cove subdivision

• Approved a bid for paving and preservation of county roads in accordance with the Rebuild Alabama Act

• Approved the naming of a private drive

The commission suspended the meeting until Sept. 30 when it plans to approve the fiscal year 2021 budget. Its next scheduled meeting is 9 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.