A new issue is popping up in rural parts of the county, causing the Jefferson County Commissioners and the Jefferson County Highway Department to have concerns about public safety on the county’s roads.
At one the recent commissioners meetings, members of the highway department raised the issue of people constructing fences in the county rights-of-way and allowing their livestock to graze, which is posing problems for the highway department as they work to maintain the county’s roads.
“We’re having more and more of a problem with people putting fences in the county right of way, and letting their livestock go into the grader ditches,” said Jason Eyer, Jefferson County Highway Supervisor. “Some of them are five wire and some of them are the plastic fences people use for beer gardens. People are feeding their goats and sheep in the ditches. Two of the fences I’ve seen are right on the edge of the road. It’s getting kind of out of control.”
According to Nebraska State Statute 39-301, people who damage or obstruct a public road or ditch could be charged with a class five misdemeanor. If they are found guilty, they could be charged for each day the structure occupies the right of way.
Commissioner Mark Schoenrock explained that these issues need to be resolved before it causes other problems. He emphasized that if the county does not act, they could be held liable for damages.
“We’ve got to put a stop to that,” said Schoenrock. “If we don’t address it, it becomes what’s called constructive, and we would actually share in the liability. We’re doing the right thing to try to get this resolved.”
The commissioners consulted with County Attorney Jeffrey Goltz and agreed that the best course of action for the county would be to send letters to those who are in violation of the statute and asking them to remove the structures.