Hawkins commissioners to involve county attorney in airport drainage issue

Jeff Bobo • May 29, 2018 at 5:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The engineer responsible for drainage problems on residential properties beside the Hawkins County Airport in Surgoinsville failed to show up for a meeting Friday in Rogersville, prompting county commissioners to vote to involve the county attorney.

The Hawkins County Commission's Airport Committee and airport neighbors Brian and Jessica Templeton were expecting the Michael Baker Firm to attend a meeting Friday afternoon to give an update on proposed corrective action for the drainage problem.

The Templetons have lived adjacent to the airport at 825 Main St. in Surgoinsville since 2007, but they didn't have flooding problems until runway construction was completed last year.

Committee chairman Stacy Vaughan said he will schedule an Airport Committee meeting in a couple of weeks and attempt to get the Michael Baker Firm to attend.

County Attorney Jim Phillips will also be asked to attend, and the committee will seek his advice on how to expedite resolving the drainage issue.

Committee member John Metz noted, "If we need to move forward with litigation, whatever needs to occur, we need to get that going, even if it's make a formal motion to that effect."

Brian Templeton asked the committee what the statute of limitations is for the engineer's liability on the airport project.

Vaughan said he'd like to know that as well, and with the county attorney now being involved they will find that out before the next meeting.

Templeton told the committee that if something isn't done soon to correct the flooding on his property, he plans on suing everyone who had a hand in the project, including the engineer, contractor, county and state.

"I've been playing around for over a year, and they haven't done anything except wanting me to watch grass grow," Templeton said. "That's been their solution, is watch the grass grow. I never had issues up there before. None. Since the construction, I have to take off work every meeting to come down here, and it's the same thing every time. You all don't do anything."

Vaughan said his goal is to make use of the county attorney to resolve the issue so the Templetons don’t have to take legal action.

"If I get a lawyer I'm going to sue everybody who touched it," Templeton said. "Even the man up there, Mark, who runs it. I've never been in a courtroom in my life and don't want to go to one, but if that's what it takes to keep my property from being flooded, that's what I'm going to do. I don't care if it makes the county mad, and the state. I don't care. I'm at that point."

Water is basically funneled directly onto the Templeton property. 

Templeton said a construction worker who witnessed the flooding told him it was a “bad design” and it won’t improve over time. 

He added, "I'm not an engineer, but I do know this. We weren't having flooding before the construction, and we are having it now."

Several projects have been completed recently at the airport — mostly with federal funding, including new fencing, clearing approach and takeoff paths, and a line of sight project that removed a hump in the middle of the runway that obscured the view from one end to the other.

Most of these projects were mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration through the Tennessee Aeronautics Division and were administered locally by the county commission’s Airport Committee.

Overall, about $1.6 million has been spent on recent projects at the Hawkins County Airport, usually with a 5 percent local funding match required.


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