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Cattle gap causes resident concerns

By Mark Rogers

The Lowndes Signal

The Lowndes County Commission is looking into solutions for a problem with a cattle gap on Mushatt Road in Letohatchee.

During Monday night’s meeting, commissioners heard from resident Margie McDonald and attorney Chip Nix of Montgomery about the issues before discussing the legal aspects in executive session with County Attorney Henry Sanders. After a 15-minute session, the Commission voted to investigate the situation further to determine what action could be taken.

“The cattle just walk across,” McDonald said. “They don’t have to hop or anything, they just walk across. What we’re asking is to have it cleaned out. We lost two cows, as a matter of fact, one was a bull, 1,500 pounds and we can’t find him, and a little cow are gone. These are the problems we are having.”

In years past, McDonald and her family had a gate, but it was taken out when the road was worked on.

“When the cattle gap was put in, y’all were supposed to maintain it,” McDonald said. “It’s not being maintained. I’m running after cows. I shouldn’t have to do that. This is happening over and over. It’s costing us money to lose cattle. We’ve got a breeding bull that’s gone. That bull has to be replaced. I’d like to know what you’re going to do to assist getting this taken care of?”

Sanders said he wanted the opportunity to assess the situation further.

“I know of one other time it came up,” he said. “There were questions. You have five commissioners and the Commission can only speak with one voice. The Commission speaks by taking a vote or passing a resolution or passing something. I intend to give them some further advice as more information comes to me. I will advise the Commission and I’m certain that they will respond to you in a short period of time.”

McDonald also said that she’s had to run cattle back several times in the past week and was concerned that it could take time for the Commission to make a ruling. She said the cows were becoming a problem and eating neighbors’ flowers.

“My responsibility is to maintain them in the pasture,” she said. “When the road was first installed, there was a gate there. You had to get out and open a gate. We don’t want to get out and open a gate, but we don’t want to lose cattle either. My responsibility is to maintain what we have. If the county’s responsibility is to maintain that cattle gap, then you should maintain it. When my dad signed papers with the Commission they were supposed to maintain it. We’re paying taxes to have things maintained. I want my money’s worth — to have it maintained.”

Sanders addressed McDonald again and promised he would speak with County Engineer David Butts and the Commission and get back in touch within a few days.

The county also faces another problem, a lawsuit that stems from a cow getting loose, according to Nix.

“I represent a man who has a cattle farm close to Ms. McDonald’s place,” he concluded. “He was hit by her bull. It hit a utility vehicle he was driving. He was pinned under the utility vehicle. His ankle was severely broken. He had to have surgery and had to have several plates and screws inserted. It’s because the cattle gap is not keeping the cattle where they belong. I just got involved with the case, but I promised I would come and make this known to the Commission.”