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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Resident is giving railroad a fight

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

BENTON - A Rockview man says he won't be railroaded without a fight.

Lester Glastetter of Rockview said during the regular Scott County Commission meeting Tuesday that he is filing two lawsuits against the Union Pacific Railroad.

"They have to abide by our laws, just nobody's pushing it," Glastetter said. "I will."

Glastetter said he has 28 acres in Rockview, some of it near where the Union Pacific Railroad plans to put in a connection curve. "I own 1,000 feet along that track," he said and discussed with commissioners several state statutes he believes the railroad is not complying with. He also offered commissioners a copy of the form to file a formal complaint so they can provide it for other county residents to use.

Glastetter said he has a lawyer hired and has spoken with the Missouri Department of Transportation's attorney. He said state statutes say trains can't block crossings for longer than five minutes; must provide adequate drainage to prevent flooding; must keep crossings and right-of-ways clear of vegetation; and must respond within 60 days of a written complaint.

Railroad officials met with residents of Rockview during an August County Commission meeting to discuss the connection curve. Union Pacific Railroad officials also advised area residents of their plan to increase train traffic through this area.

"With 40 trains a day, it's going to be bad," Glastetter said. With the trains being 6,600 feet long, he said, they will present a problem for emergency vehicles coming in and out of Rockview.

Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel said that for the most part railroads "just do what they want to."

"We as a county or individuals have a lot of rights," Glastetter said.

He said the railroad has not engaged in "good faith dealing," and made him an offer for a 50-foot strip when the dimension was really 61.5 feet. "I'm going to fight for my whole 61 and one-half feet," he said.

Glastetter also said a neighbor was offered $3.57 per square foot while he was only offered 15 cents per square foot. Railroad officials reportedly told him his land was worth less because it has standing water on it, but Glastetter said that is "because they won't drain it."

If he was being offered the same deal as his neighbor, the offer would have been for $214,000 instead of $9,000 or their second offer of $13,500, Glastetter said. He said railroad officials explained they only paid the higher rate on small tracts of land. "I'm losing a whole lot more than he is," he said.

Glastetter said he wants compensation for drainage problems and the loss of use of his land while flooded and will pursue that separately from a lawsuit over the land acquisition.

Commissioner Jamie Burger said the Burlington Northern Railroad has verbally agreed to replace their drainage pipe with a bigger one, but until they do so water will back up at that point making all other drainage improvements pointless.

Burger also advised that Glastetter should be ready to spend the next six to eight months in court with the railroad. Priggel said it would be more like six to eight years.

In other business during Tuesday's meeting:

* Commissioners reviewed a letter they will send to area newspaper editors thanking Scott County residents "who gave of their time and the use of their equipment to help us clear the roads of snow."

"Without their help, the roads would still be drifted in," Priggel said, as the county has 377 miles of road.

The letter also thanks Harlan Duncan, superintendent of Scott County roads, and county road crews for working extra hours and on Christmas Eve.

Burger said all four of the county's road graders and its front-end loader were out clearing roads. "We did really good the first day," he said.

Crews prepared roads prior to the snow by spreading salt and sand on hills and heavily-traveled thoroughfares, according to Burger. The next day's winds and resultant drifting "overwhelmed" the county's resources, however.

Snow drifts created a "dangerous situation Wednesday night," Priggel said, "with the wind blowing through so bad. A lot of cars got stranded that night."

County officials said they are now looking into getting chains for the motor grader tires because of the county's hills.

* A document from attorney James M. Hux outlining procedures that have been taken so far and required future steps to incorporate Public Water Supply District of Scott County, Missouri, No. 4 was reviewed by commissioners.

Hux advised he has sent a copy of the petition to each of the cities within one mile of the district's boundaries and has a hearing scheduled by Judge David Dolan for 3 p.m. Jan. 12.

During the hearing, John Chittenden of Waters Engineering in Sikeston and members of the district's steering committee will be asked to offer evidence of the necessity and appropriateness of the district's incorporation.

The court's order must be entered before Jan. 25, which is the closing date for all ballot measures for the April 5 election. Only a simple majority of voters will be needed for the district to incorporate.

* At 3:15 p.m. Thursday in the courthouse the following county office holders will be sworn in: Dennis Ziegenhorn, first district county commissioner; Jamie Burger, second district county commissioner; Pam Dirnberger, public administrator; Rick Walter, sheriff; and Scott Amick, coroner.

The term for assessors does not begin until Sept. 1, so Teresa Houchin will be sworn in at a later date, according to County Clerk Rita Milam.

County officials will also hold a reception for Commissioner Walter Bizzell in recognition of his 12 years of service to the county from 1-3 p.m. Thursday at the courthouse.