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Bonn draws fire for paving project

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

Misunderstanding about an open road project led to an image headache for County Judge Tom Bonn during Monday’s regular meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court.

The project, which Bonn said began construction in 2009, prior to his term as County Judge, involves the leveling and paving of Westwood Road

(CR 215), where Bonn and Precinct 1 Commissioner John Cyrier both happen to live. A portion of the road was repaved several years ago, and the work order, according to Bonn, was left open after that time.

During a heated, 90-minute discussion on Monday, several residents of the area came forward to ask the Court to complete the project and pave “the FM 20W end” of Westwood Road. They cited a variety of dangers, including a “washboard” effect and excessive dust problems. It was the residents’ understanding, they said, that the road would be paved after ditch and culvert work was completed.

Unit Road Administrator Dwight Jeffrey said the project was never intended to include paving the westernmost portions of Westwood Road, and that he was instructed by Bonn earlier this year to pave the road. Commissioners Neto Madrigal, Joe Roland and Fred Buchholtz reacted as though they were unaware of that order.

“If the Commissioners’ Court tells me to pave a road, then I pave it,” he said. “But paving that part of the road was never in [my] plan.”

Jeffrey said that his Unit Road budget included working on the culverts, at which time he had intended to close the work order and consider the project finished.

Westwood Road resident Oscar Fogle said he had completed informal traffic counts on the road, and suggested more than 150 cars per day utilize the unpaved portion of Westwood Road. Because of that increased traffic, he said, and other residents agreed, the road should have been a top priority for paving.

Several residents of other areas of the county came forward to complain, both to their own precinct commissioners and to the Court as a matter of record, suggesting other county roads were in worse condition and in greater need of paving. They leveled thinly-veiled accusations of Bonn using his position as County Judge to attend to his and his neighbors’ properties first.

The completion of the project, according to the posted agenda for Monday’s meeting, was to be funded with a $120,000 overage in sales tax revenues collected by the county during this fiscal year.

Despite reports made to Madrigal and Roland that paving had already commenced on Westwood Road, Jeffrey confirmed that he has not yet begun the paving project, and that only culvert work had begun in the area.

The Court voted 3-2 against continuing the paving project, with Bonn and Cyrier voting for the work, and the others voting against it.

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