This June will mark 50 years that Ed Hornick and his wife Darla have lived off of FM 200 just northeast of Glen Rose.
But on Monday during the regular meeting of the Somervell County Commissioners Court, Hornick didn’t make it sound as though he will be throwing a party to celebrate.
The out-of-the way property where he has worked his produce farm for all these years is under invasion from a seemingly endless string of large transport trucks hauling sand and gravel from mining pits on nearby leased property.
Hornick had a spot on the agenda, and that gave him an opportunity to voice his concerns “for the safety of the people who live on the road,” because of the heavy trucks running “80,000 pounds of weight or more” on a road that “really has no shoulder to it.”
Hornick, 83, said a recent informal count showed that totaled approximately 300 trucks going by their property in one day.
Hornick said that an area after crossing a cattle guard on his road has residences with nine families.
In addition to the safety concerns and “the noise, the lights, the squeaking, everything," Hornick stated that the value of those properties dropped “at least 40 percent overnight.”
Hornick told the Glen Rose Reporter, “It don’t make sense not to find an alternate route — and make them pay for it.”
Somervell County officials have been discussing with TxDOT the possibility of putting an alternate route for trucks to avoid having the semi-trailers plowing through downtown Glen Rose on a regular basis, from other mining areas south of town, heading toward U.S. Highway 67. But the area northeast of Glen Rose is not near the Hornick’s residence, and was not part of any of those potential new truck routes.
The “them” would be the concrete company called GCH, based in Hood County, that leases the land. GCH is legally mining the material, for its own use as well as to sell, according to Precinct 3 Commissioner Kennth Wood.
Wood said he has met with the residents of that problem area and has already explained to them that it’s not a county issue, but a civil issue.
Wood suggested that if the residents affected in a negative way by the trucking route have safety concerns, they should talk to the sheriff.
“It’s a civil deal. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Commissioners Court,” Wood said Tuesday morning, noting that he got new striping for the roadway, and has looked into the idea of widening the road. “We were going to try to expand it a little bit.”
However, Wood said, his “hands are tied” on that potential project to widen the easement because “nobody wants to give up property to allow us to expand the road.”
Wood said the road surface is good, adding that the big trucks “have not tore up the road.”
Wood added that the speed limit, 35 mph, is “as low as we’ve got it on any county road. I’ve never met a truck that wasn’t courteous and was going too fast. We’ve got the Sheriff’s Department watching on a regular basis, but they can’t be out there all the time.”
But, as Ed Hornick’s wife Darla told The Glen Rose Reporter, “It’s affecting our lives.”
FUTURE PARKING LOT
Commissioners voted unanimously (5-0) to approve purchase of a vacant lot at the corner of Elm Street and Vine Street, behind the former Glen Rose Reporter building. Recently, that property had changed hands, according to County Auditor Brian Watts.
“I approached the owner and involved (County Judge Danny Chambers) and we were able to negotiate what we felt like was a fair price. We knew there was going to be a need, and we needed to prepare for it.”
Watts said the purchase, for $100,000, is intended to be for having the lot become a parking lot to help handle the large numbers of vehicles sometimes seen when downtown visitors increase for various events.
“As a town, we’re continuing to grow,” Watts said. “That’s going to be a long-term problem. It was available right now, but it’s really for the future. We have no immediate plans to turn it into a parking lot.
“It was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up, and it was in the best interest of the taxpayers. There’s going to be a future Commissioners Court that’s going to be very grateful for the actions of these commissioners.”
Watts noted that the earnest money was put down on the lot, but that the deal will close in October and the funding will be from next year’s county budget.