Stone Bridge to remain standing, to be sold to Historic Preservation Commission

After approving a motion to sell Ely’s Stone Bridge for $1 to the Jones County Historical Preservation Commission April 18, the Jones County Board of Supervisors ordered the bridge closed the same day. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Board of Supervisors
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     Ely’s Stone Bridge could remain standing for years to come, thanks to a decision made by the Jones County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting Tuesday, April 18.

     The board voted to sell Ely's Stone Bridge to the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission, at a cost of $1, so that the commission can pursue funding for repairs through grants and other sources.

     The board also ordered county engineer Derek Snead to close the bridge immediately until such repairs can be made. The bridge was promptly closed Tuesday afternoon until further notice.

     Rose Rohr, chair of the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission, said that while it’s nice to know the bridge can’t be torn down at this time, the issue is not over yet.

     “If I don’t have it in black and white, it’s not a done deal,” Rohr said in a phone interview on Friday.

     Rohr said she didn’t wish to comment on how the commission will proceed until the transaction occurs, which she said could be in the next couple of weeks.

     Once repairs are made, the county retains the right to repurchase the bridge, again for $1, so that it can be placed back on the county's secondary road system. Joe Oswald made the motion, with Ned Rohwedder seconding. The vote was 4-1, with board chair Jon Zirkelbach and Lloyd Eaken also voting in favor, and Wayne Manternach voting against.

     The topic began with Zirkelbach reading a resolution regarding the bridge. The resolution contained information gathered at previous meetings and listed five possible options for the bridge. At the bottom of the printed resolution – which was available to all in attendance at the meeting – was a blank spot for the direction the board voted to take.

     Sixteen visitors were on hand, and watched as the board first considered two other motions, and voted them down.

     The first came from Supervisor Lloyd Eaken. He moved to sell the bridge to the JCHPC, but also that a new bridge be constructed next to the current bridge.

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach said he would not vote for Eaken’s motion.

     “It’s the most expensive (option), and it doesn’t add any safety,” Manternach said.

     It was voted down 4-1, with Eaken as the only aye vote.

     Then, Manternach offered a motion, which stated that Snead be instructed to place the bridge on the five-year plan for replacement, with the requirement that components of the original bridge be incorporated into the new design where possible.

     “I would not be in favor of that,” Rohwedder said. “I think there are options that would cost less money to the taxpayers.”

     That, too, was voted down 4-1, with Manternach casting the aye vote.

     Rohwedder, who seconded all three motions for discussion purposes, showed his support for Oswald’s motion.

     “I feel comfortable with this particular motion,” Rohwedder said. “It doesn’t satisfy all the needs, but it does preserve the bridge from a historical perspective. It doesn’t address some of the safety concerns that have been brought to us by our county engineer. But the only thing that makes me comfortable with that is the fact that we have very little accident history in that location.”

     Once the board voted in favor of the Oswald motion, Zirkelbach directed Snead to close the bridge in order to minimize risk to the county while the Historical Commission worked on plans to repair it.


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