This Just Don’t Add Up!

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Ready for some GOVERNMENT MATH??? We’re back trying to help the road weary taxpayers in Angelina County who deserve way more transparency than they’re getting.

Angelina county judge Keith Wright is sick and tired of people around Lufkin complaining about bad roads.

We’re back on the crappy roads of Angelina Count. But hey, you folks that complain to us can feel a lot better because your county judge says there are crappy roads all over Texas. 

“I can take you to 254 counties, that’s how many counties are in this state. And I could show you the same problems. I can show you the drainage problems. I can show you bad roads,” said Judge Keith Wright.

Judge Wright wasn’t the county judge when the politicians borrowed 6 million bucks to fix the roads, but he’s a politician and they love to take credit for stuff.

“We built 20 miles of road last year that’s hasn’t been done in 18 years,” claimed Keith Wright.

Before you pat yourself on the back too much. Are you sure about that?

Because 4 years ago when Don Lymbery was county judge, commissioners borrowed 6 million bucks to pave roads. And if you believe them (I really don’t) they paved 150 miles of road in just 3 years, 49 in the first year.

It’s clear no one wants to investigate whether that math is true or not, or where all that asp[halt really went.

The piece of asphalt they once swept under the rug.

“You can ask anybody, I’ve always told the truth,” said Keith Wright.

So, lets concentrate on last year. After we heard the judge, we wanted to see the records of the county road administrator.

“You have an agenda and in your agenda you’re trying to find something wrong,” said Road Administrator James McMullen.

Let’s go to the chalkboard.

When we asked to see proof of this 20 miles of road work. We got a couple of pieces of paper.

Add it all up, county records show they only paved just over 18 miles of road.

1.75 miles of that was repaving part of Harley Golden Road again.

So that means the county really only did 16.5 miles of road.

And nearly a third of all the work they did was on one project, Harley Golden Road and the two little streets that go into it.  

Aethon paid to fix some of the project because their oil field trucks had made the road unbearable.

Take that project away and the remaining roads only add up to 13.5 miles.

We asked members of the Angelina County Watchdog group if they would check up on the work.

Here on Richardson Road, the county claimed it paved 3800 feet of road.

The county didn’t use asphalt, they used 716 tons of oil sand.

“Richardson road is paved in certain areas and not at all in other areas,” said Tracy Pinkerton.

But here on Crippin Road, the county claims it did a lot more work. Five thousand feet more paving, but weirdly they say they only used just seven tons of oil sand to do the entire job.

How is that possible?

“723 tons of oil sand in this 8448ft long. Looks pretty thin,” said Pinkerton.

When we told the county judge we needed more answers, he told us by email, you guessed it, County Road Administrator James McMullen.

He’s the guy in charge of the county’s 4.8 million dollar road and bridge budget.

“We’re learning on this as we go along. I’m not a county guy, I’ve never worked for county government. Never cared about being in county government,” said McMullen.

McMullen is the same guy who recently violated state law by failing to go out for required bids for new tractors.

“You know not going out for a bid is illegal. Why did you do it,” asked Brian Collister.

McMullen cut the deal with Jarvis Farm Equipment, the boss there was one of McMullen’s references when he got the county job. That’s one of those coincidences.

Weirdly the judge seemed more mad about McMullen’s resume leaking to the public than the actual bidding problem.

“We can stand out here till the cows come home if you want to,” said McMullen.

After the judge told us to go back to our new buddy McMullen for answers about the discrepancies we found, we tried several times over several days to talk to him. And McMullen was a no show at the last meeting of commissioners. I guess he’s ignoring his boss’s instructions.

But we’re more concerned about how angelina county is now fixing its roads.

This is what the county is using on most of the roads. This is what the county is using on most of their roads. Not asphalt, but a cheaper mixture called oil sand. Based on records we’ve seen, about 30 bucks/ton cheaper.

But you get what you pay for.

A road engineer we talked to says this oil sand will only last about 5 to 7 years while asphalt will last up 20 years.
And we also noticed the paving being done is more like a patchwork in some places.

Then all of a sudden it stops and it’s back to potholes again.

But we’re not done, there’s even more Angelina County road math to share.

We’ve now seen the settlement agreement where Angelina County agreed to pay off the former county engineer to drop his whistleblower lawsuit. You didn’t fire the guy, but you had to pay the money, $150,000.

Walker claimed that exposing county corruption on county road projects got him fired by commissioners.

Part of the deal is walker can’t also sue them for wrongful termination.

He is still fighting criminal charges leveled by one of the commissioners he was investigating at the time.

We talked to one of the commissioners, Kermit Kennedy.

“You paid chuck walker the former road engineer 150-thousand dollars.  Do you regret firing him now that the taxpayers have had to pay up that money,” asked Brian Collister.

“Well, there was a lot of issues involved that didn’t come out and I’m sticking with my decision. Which I only had one vote so, I’m sticking with that though,” replied Kennedy.

But what about the taxpayers? Don’t they deserve to hear Chuck Walker’s story?

County officials have done them a disservice by not investigating what he claimed.

That the math simply didn’t add up.

The asphalt that was bought disappeared.

“Do you think taxpayers should be on the hook for that 150 thousand,” asked Brian Collister.

“Well, I’m being one of the taxpayers myself so I’m on the hook for it to though. Alright, thank you,” replied Kennedy.

Doesn’t that make you feel better?

“This next year our goal is to build 40 miles of road,” stated Keith Wright.

Will Angelina County motorists be happy with that? Just kicking the can down these messed up roads.

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