Newcomb, Nichols speak on road closure

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
At the Dorchester County Council meeting on Dec. 15, it was revealed that Corkran Cemetery Road in North Dorchester had been closed improperly. Though unpaved and little used, the road is public. The sign seen here was erected by county workers. Farther along the road, amid the trees in the background, a private citizen who was not identified had blocked the road with a chain and barrier.

CAMBRIDGE — County Council President Jay Newcomb (District 1) and Member William Nichols (District 2) spoke Jan. 5 about the closure in December of Corkran Cemetery Road near Rhodesdale in North Dorchester.
At the Dec. 15 meeting of the Dorchester County Council, it was revealed that the road had been improperly closed after a request by Council Member Libby Nagel (District 5). The road, most of which is unpaved, is in District 4, represented by Council Member Lenny Pfeffer.

The council decided at the Dec. 15 meeting to begin the regular closure process, which involves public hearings.
At last week’s meeting, Mr. Newcomb said, “Never did we block the road, no county official blocked the road.” He said the closure was necessary after emergency vehicles met difficulties driving there, because of the road’s poor condition.

Early in December, Ms. Nagel had asked the Director of the Department of Public Works Dave Edwards to take a look at the condition of the road. Finding what he described as a deep hole, he had a sign set up closing the road. Commissioners said a private citizen also set up a barrier and a chain across the road, physically blocking it.
At the time, Mr. Pfeffer was not notified about the activity in his district. When he looked into the issue, he said he found that the Hurlock fire chief, 911 Center and Sheriff’s Office had also not been told the road was closed.

After Mr. Newcomb’s remarks on Jan. 5, Mr. Pfeffer said, “Mr. President, the road needs to be improved, not closed.”
“There is one small spot on there that could use some improvement, instead of it being closed,” Mr. Pfeffer said. “A councilperson from another district decided to make a motion to close the road in my area with no discussion made. Very upsetting.”
Mr. Newcomb said, “It was put on the floor, put to a public discussion. We have not closed that road. Any council member has a right to make a motion. If it passes, it passes. We’re all Dorchester County Council members, elected by district, but we represent Dorchester County.”

Mr. Pfeffer said, “That’s true, Mr. President, but when I had to answer calls because people couldn’t get a hold of you or other councilpeople, I have answered their calls. I was told to stay out of other areas. So I find that very unprofessional after I was advised to stay out of my area when it comes to things like that.”

Mr. Newcomb said the legal process has begun to close the road. “Nothing has been officially done. I think Mr. Edwards has gone up there and taken some stone, try to patch it up. But since he done that, we had emergency vehicles that just about got stuck, had to come back out. Another unit was dispatched from the other end. Our concern was that it be public safety for whoever…At this point, all I’m going on the record, the county has taken no action at this time to close the road although Mr. Edwards did put up some sign to close due to safety.”

Mr. Nichols said, “Some people in districts will not call you. I got people in my district that hate my guts. They’ll call somebody else. I’m not mad about that. I don’t know where this junk coming from.”
He continued, “If a kid took a bicycle, went down there and got throwed off and broke his neck, everybody hollering and screaming, how come the county ain’t do nothing?”
“If somebody think this is over, take it from me, this is not over,” Mr. Nichols said. He emphasized that the council works for the entire county, not district by district.

Mr. Pfeffer said, “Mr. Nichols, I agree with you, sir. But you were in the room too, when I was scolded by President Newcomb, as well as by [County Attorney E. Thomas] Merryweather, who instructed me, that if it’s not in my area to stay out of it.”

Mr. Newcomb said, “I don’t think any such thing. It’s a courtesy to let someone know, but I don’t think nobody’s there to put up no wall, or no fence, saying to stay out of your district.”