Lynchburg man brings sinkhole concerns


A Lynchburg man who has been fighting sinkholes on his property and in the surrounding area for a number of years asked the Highland County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to “be on the side of sanity” and address the issue.

Charles Leach attended the meeting to bring concerns about the geology of the area around Panhandle Road, saying there have been sinkholes there for more than 100 years.

Leach, who is 78 years old, said he’s been dealing with sinkholes on his property for a number of years, and is frustrated that the county hasn’t done more to fix the problem.

He said the Highland County Engineer’s Office took some measures to redirect drainage near his property, but he said he feels county workers don’t care about the problem – to the point that “there’s no use talking to them.”

“Quite frankly, we don’t trust Highland County,” he said.

According to Leach, geologists from Ohio State University have surveyed his property, and determined it sits on unstable “karst” topography, which, according to the United States Geological Survey, is a type of landscape where soluble rock underground is dissolved by surface water or ground water, often causing sinkholes to develop.

Leach said he has been able to divert the flow of some damaging water to the north end of his property, but he said he feels the county has not done its part in maintaining the areas beyond.

Leach said he has tried to warn people not to build homes in certain areas there due to the unstable landscape, but two homes have been built in places he believes will soon be dotted with sinkholes.

Leach urged the commissioners to hire geologists to survey the area.

“We’ve got to start recognizing the problem officially,” he said.

Highland County Commissioner Terry Britton said the commissioners would set up a time to come out, and board president Shane Wilkin said the county would take steps toward solving the problem, if there is a solution.

“Let’s take it one step at a time,” Wilkin said.

In other business Wednesday:

• The commissioners passed a resolution transferring $20,000 to the Highland County Coroner’s Office contracts and services fund. Wilkin told The Times-Gazette a majority of the funds will be used to pay for autopsies, a budgetary issue described in a previous story in The Times-Gazette.

• Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said the were 86 inmates housed at the jail, and with the grand jury indictments handed down Tuesday, he expected there would be more before the end of the day. The Highland County Jail was built to house 72 inmates.

• Wilkin said the runway at the Highland County Airport will close Thursday, Sept. 14 at 6 a.m. and remain closed for 10 days for repairs.

• The commissioners voted to approve the purchase of a new Ford Explorer Interceptor for the Highland County Sheriff’s Office. Wilkin said the vehicle will be purchased with funds from the Highland County Clerk of Courts title fund.

• The commissioners proclaimed Friday, Sept. 15 POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Saturday, Sept. 23 Special Olympics Day.

Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.

Charles Leach, right, gives handouts to Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan during a commissioners meeting Wednesday. Leach, right, gives handouts to Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan during a commissioners meeting Wednesday. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Resident asks county to address topography issues

By David Wright

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