Chain blocking road linked to highway and sheriff's departments

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

Things aren't always as they seem. The Carter County Highway Committee only had a few people in the audience for the members to address, and Chairman Jerry Pearman only had a few items on his to-do list.
   Local resident, Daniel Bullock, 139 Oscar Johnson Rd., asked the committee about the status of the county road he lives on. Oscar Johnson Road was paved by the Carter County Highway Department over a year ago.
   Since that time, the owner of a house at the end of the road has placed a gate and chain at the 1,731-foot mark of the road, exactly at the point where the Highway Department stopped paving the road. According to Bullock, the owner, Bill Estep, placed a chain over the road and will not allow Bullock to drive to the end of it, which he must do to access a portion of his own property.
   Highway Department employees determined the road is designated on the county highway map as being 1,848 feet in length. Dugger said Estep does not have the right to block the road with a chain or a gate even if he is the only property owner beyond that point.
   Dugger also said enforcing the law is not the Highway Department's responsibility or the County Highway Committee but that the Carter County Sheriff's Department would be in charge of the situation and "it is a misdemeanor to block a county road."
   Pearman said, "We can tell the sheriff to tell him (Estep) to take down the gate or chain if he is in violation of blocking a county road."
   Bullock said he reported the problem to the Sheriff's Department and has not had any luck with the neighbor taking the chain down or getting a response from police.
   He said logging work is being conducted on the section of his property that he cannot access because of the gate that blocks the road.
   In other business, members voted to send a motion to the County Commission to place a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Dave Buck and Greenlee Road. Residents of the area signed a petition requesting the additional stop signs be located there because of recurring traffic accidents.