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Mayor defends pothole efforts

Mayor Greg York shows an Indianapolis television crew the pothole city council president Mark Koger called “a crater.” York and Street Commissioner Lee Walker were included in a news report along with Koger on WXIN-TV about the pothole issue.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

New Castle potholes went from the city council chambers to an Indianapolis television audience Tuesday when WXIN-TV, Channel 59, came to town looking for the “crater” discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Greg York and Street Commissioner Lee Walker showed the television crew what council president Mark Koger became so upset about during Monday’s meeting. They inferred “crater-sized” – the term Koger used – is in the eye of the beholder.

“It needed to be fixed but there are worse things in the city than that pothole,” Walker said.

With measuring tape in hand, York showed TV crews just how large the pothole was in the 1100 block of Main St. It had been filled, so there was no indication of just how deep it was.

“A month from now, it could be right back like it was but we’ll stay on it and now that the street department and Lee knows about it, he’ll keep it as a priority and stay on it,” York said. “We’ve got a bad one at the fire department. We don’t want the fire department pulling out and hitting a chuck hole as they’re heading to a fire. Lee’s got a list and he’ll keep an eye on it until we can fix it properly.”

But beyond the tone of Koger’s complaint, York took exception to the contention that city crews don’t “fix it right.” He took the TV crew just up the street where another problem area had been and described how the area had been completely dug out and repaved.

“You see that water standing?” York asked as he pointed to a puddle beside a curb. “That’s bad. It just doesn’t run off enough.”

“But, the statement that he (Koger) made that we don’t fix them right – here’s the pothole he was talking about two years ago, last year and the year before that. This pothole was fixed correctly.”

And York pledged the one in question this week would also be “fixed correctly” when weather conditions permit. 

“It’s not a perfect road, but it’s not impassable,” York told WXIN. “It could be better. We have a lot of parades on this road, so we want it to be the best it can possibly be.”

“What do you want people to know?” the WXIN reporter asked York.

“Call the street department and we’ll get out on it just as quick as we possibly can,” he said.

Walker stressed the weather has played an unusually early role in pothole issues, which normally don’t rear their ugly heads until spring.

“The problem this year is we really haven’t had much of a fall,” Walker said. “It’s kind of jumped right out of summer into winter. So this year, it may be a really bad year for potholes.”

Evidence of that is already being seen, not just in New Castle, but across the East Central Indiana area. Walker said he recently tried to purchase “cold mix” for the winter months to fill potholes. None could be found.

“Both plants I called said they didn’t have any,” Walker said. “Pendleton and Muncie said it would be two to three weeks before I could get any to have on hand for the street department to fix potholes. As soon as I can get some cold mix material, we’re going to fix them.”

Walker said people needed to understand “fixing” a pothole is more complicated than pouring material in the hole.

“When you talk about patching a pothole, it’s just that. You’re patching it. It’s not a permanent fix. People need to be patient. We’re doing the best we can. I’ve got six people who are designated to help fix roads. That also includes brush pick-up, leaf pick-up and pothole repair. So we are limited on manpower but my guys are very dedicated. They work hard every day and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anybody else in any other city.”