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Decision on closing Stepanek Crossing promised to residents

Posted on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 9:54 am

Word is expected Oct. 16 in regards to a petition asking the Lincoln County Commission to close a road at the Cuivre River  north of Troy.

Approximately 40 people attended a public hearing Oct. 1 regarding a petition to have the commissioners close a crossing which connects Stepanek Road to Piepers Corner Road in an area just off Route D. Signing the petition requesting the closure were property owners Robert and Mary Ann Kallash, James and Katherine Lawler, Alvin and Rosie Adams, Emily Wells, Catherine Lawler and Dennis Kallash. Dennis Kallash spoke on the petitioners’ behalf at the hearing. The issues include the increases in calls to 9-1-1 regarding stealings and burglaries  of farm equipment, scrap iron and more people trespassing  on private property.

“The area is becoming a dumping ground for disposing  and burning of pallets and even a wanted felon was arrested,” said Kallash. He added people even dump insulation into the Cuivre River.  He presented photos as a visual aid for the commissioners to view.

“Have you ever made a call for fear of safety for either yourself or family,” asked Presiding Commissioner Dan Colbert. Kallash answered in the affirmative.

Paul Malone, a farmer who uses the road, said the issue is not a maintenance matter but said the area needs more attention from law enforcement and conservation officials. “We need the road to remain open for farmers who use it to move equipment from a farm to another,” he said adding, “if it is closed, it would cause longer trips and travel over more dangerous, well-used roads.”

Christine George, while sympathizing with Kallash’s concern, said closing though would not be the proper course of action.

Rose Harrell presented signatures on petitions requesting the commissioners to keep the road open. She lives on Hill Creek Road. “There’s a lot of history people using that crossing and using the sand bar as recreation area,” she said.  Others added that people have had access to the sand bar. The county officials said that entry into the river through private property was not legal.

Mark Sweeten, a local rural mail carrier and resident in the area, says the Stepanek Crossing saves him considerable mileage when going and coming home from work. He would have to add miles each day if the crossing is closed.

Melva Stepanek Huber spoke of her family’s heritage to the crossing, the importance it has held through the years for many people  and closing it should not be an option.

Two former county officials, Gary Hoffmann and Marvin Himmel, also spoke. Hoffmann said he was opposed to the closing the road.

When Colbert asked for those who opposed the closure to raise their hands, the vast majority put their hands into the air.  Susan Rombach spoke of the times she and her family have gone to the area, to their cabin and have enjoyed family events.

The commissioners accepted the petitions, comments and will have a decision by their regular meeting set for Tuesday, Oct. 16.