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Upshur County officials vie for county road administrator spot

By Christina Lane
Dec. 10, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Past and present Upshur County commissioners are in the market for a new job with the county - they want to be the next road administrator.

Pct. 1 Commissioner James Crittenden, whose last day in office will be Dec. 31, and former Pct. 2 Commissioner Tommy Stanley, who was elected to office in 1990 and served three terms, each said they are applying for the road administrator job so that - should the county not find a certified engineer - there are other applicants in place to manage the department.

"I grew up doing this kind of work," Stanley said. "I ran for county commissioner the first time because I was tired of our road system. We had 1950s and 1960s roads in our county in the 1990s. ... I have as much experience or more as those who have been there over the years, and I feel like I can do the county a good job."

The commissioners court is accepting applications for a road engineer and road administrator through the end of January, and is looking to hire by Feb. 1. Road Engineer Eric Fisher resigned in November. County taxpayers voted in 2002 to switch to a unit road system that puts road work in the hands of an engineer or administrator. Before the unit road system, county commissioners were in charge of maintaining roads in their own precincts.

Terms of the system say that the county's roads shall be maintained by a road engineer. However, if a suitable engineer cannot be found, commissioners can appoint a road administrator to oversee the roads.

"If you have an administrator who applies himself, he can do as good a job as the engineer can do," Crittenden said.

Crittenden, who has served as commissioner since 2005, said he has a working knowledge of the county from the past eight years and understands what situation the department is in financially.

"I believe there needs to be better communication between the road engineer or administrator and the employees out there," Crittenden said.

"By being a commissioner the last eight years, I have gotten to know a large amount of the employees out there," he said. "I've got a good rapport with most of the employees out there, and I feel like a positive working relationship will go a long way in an area like that where you've got to communicate and work with each other."

Crittenden said he doesn't have experience building roads, but he has experience operating equipment as an administrator is required to do. He said he also has worked closely with the road engineer in Harrison County, and believes he would be able to turn to him for assistance and guidance should that be needed.

The unit road system was voted in as Stanley was leaving office. He said he has the exact experience needed for the job.

"My crew and I worked hard to get roads up to better standards. When I left office in 2002, the precinct 2 roads were in better shape than anywhere else in the county," he said.

"I understand Upshur County is working with a limited budget," Stanley said. "We're not not like Gregg County or Smith County - our resources are more limited. We have to figure out the best way to do this and save most amount of money."



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