Sinkhole discussion grows heated at Highland County Commissioners meeting


Discussion at a Wednesday meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners regarding sinkholes in the Lynchburg area was cut short after an area man began to chastise the board for not acting fast enough.

Charles Leach, a Panhandle Road resident, said at a September commissioners meeting that he has been fighting sinkholes on his property and in the surrounding areas for a number of years, and made pleas for the commissioners to “be on the side of sanity” and address the issue, suggesting the board have a geological survey done in the area.

Leach expressed frustration at that meeting and again on Wednesday, accusing the county of not doing enough to solve the problem.

Board president Shane Wilkin said he recently spoke with a representative of the Ohio Geological Survey who delivered a presentation on sinkholes at the Highland County District Library, and asked him to take a look at Leach’s property.

Initially, Wilkin said, the representative told him he would gladly do so, but later spoke with his superiors, who said, “Absolutely not.”

Regardless, Wilkin said, the board is “making headway” and plans to come out to the property with the county engineer.

Leach said the board should have come out sooner, or at least tried to undo the “half-a— fix” he said county workers have arranged in the past.

“A month ago… we shook hands and you agreed to come out,” Leach said. “I’ve been waiting ever since.”

Leach introduced Melissa Longworth, a homeowner in the area who also expressed concerns about the sinkhole problem.

Wilkin apologized to Longworth and Leach, again saying the board will address the issue as soon as possible. Leach began to raise his voice.

“Common sense would have been to plug the blasted pipe,” Leach said. “This denial has to end.”

At one point, Leach said the board doesn’t believe there are sinkholes, to which Wilkin replied, “I believe there are sinkholes.”

“Congratulations,” Leach said.

Wilkin then ended the discussion, saying the board will look at the property as soon as possible.

“We will be out there,” he said.

When Barb Cole, who regularly comes to commissioners meetings, began to ask a question, Wilkin said, “I’m actually done on this topic today.”

With agreement from the other commissioners, Wilkin ended the meeting and the board adjourned.

In other matters Wednesday, commissioner Jeff Duncan said new handicap-accessible doors have been installed at the Highland County Administration Building.

Commissioner Terry Britton said the 75th annual meeting of the Highland County Soil and Water Conservation District will be held Oct. 18. For more information, call the district at 937-393-1922.

The commissioners also passed routine financial resolutions.

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

Highland County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin, left, sits in session with commissioner Terry Britton during a commissioners meeting Wednesday. County Board of Commissioners President Shane Wilkin, left, sits in session with commissioner Terry Britton during a commissioners meeting Wednesday. David Wright | The Times-Gazette
Lynchburg man criticizes board for inaction, Wilkin ends meeting

By David Wright

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