The McCreary County Record

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January 7, 2014

Spanning Yesterday and Tomorrow

Wayne, McCreary team up to repair swinging bridges

JONES HOLLOW —  The Little South Fork separates McCreary and Wayne counties but the people who live in the communities along that boundary have never let it keep them apart.

    In addition to fording the river at Ritner and Freedom, citizens of the area have been served for decades by two swinging bridges which have recently fallen into disrepair.

    On Friday McCreary County Fiscal Court approved an interlocal agreement with Wayne County Fiscal Court to keep those historic bridges functional for years to come.

    Wayne County Fiscal Court approved the measure last month at the behest of their District 3 Magistrate Dale Vaughn, who noted that now is a good time to fix the bridges before the river rises in the spring.

    The Ritner bridge, with only a few missing and loose boards, is still usable. It is believed to have been built in 1926 and, according to McCreary resident Kelly Tucker, was last refloored about 25 years ago through the efforts of then-Dist. 2 Magistrate Gale Hines.

    The Freedom bridge is believed to have been built in 1919. Tucker stated Saturday that children used it to get to the Foster School on the McCreary side. Today, a number of McCrearians attend Freedom Church on the Wayne side. However one of the cables last spring, making it completely unusable. Tucker said the drive into Wayne County to reach the church when the river can’t be forded is a 70-mile round trip.

    “These bridges were here before we were and we need to leave them when go,” Vaughn said Saturday as he reviewed the bridges with McCreary magistrates Roger Phillips and Stan Cox.

    During Friday’s fiscal court meeting, McCreary County Judge-Executive Doug Stephens said that Wayne County Fiscal Court will research how much the project will cost. The counties will split the bill, though Stephens noted that road funds can’t be used.

    Magistrate Phillips noted that the cost may be limited to materials as some individuals are willing to donate their time, while Deputy Judge Andrew Powell said he would research the possibility of using Forest Service PILT funds.

    Pine Knot resident Larry Taylor asked about the county seeking a grant for historic presevation.

    Powell noted that those grants are funded federally and would add time and expense to the project.

    The deputy judge explained that two years ago, the county was forced to turn down a $50,000 grant to build an ATV trail on Stephens Knob because it would require that much or more for the county to conduct a cultural survey because of logging in that area.

    Magistrate Phillips also noted that federal grants also involve prevailing wage labor.

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