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Potholes caused by earthquake, too

By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Editors Note: The following is a continuation of the story "All Shook Up" which ran in the Sunday, July 28 edition of The Advance.
While a 1997 earthquake has caused plenty of problems for the Atmore Utilities Board, the "aftershocks" of repair are causing headaches for the Atmore Street Department.
During a recent independent survey, the board was notified of over 60 grade one or serious leaks that call for immediate repair and over 200 grade two leaks that are to repaired within only a few months.
Director Tom Wolfe said expenses on the project for a nine month period ending in June have totaled over $63,000, compared to only $4,265 spent in that same time period last year.
While Mayor Howard Shell is uncertain on the status of repairing the holes, he said that it is certainly something that is receiving priority attention.
Shell said that asphalt placed in the holes will not stick unless the ground is dry, and that recent showers have kept the street department's repair efforts behind schedule.
Wolfe said his department is almost done with its repairs, however the street department is far behind.
The board is reimbursing the street department for the cost of repairing the holes.
In an interview last Friday, Wolfe said he hated to inconvenience the public, but repairs were necessary.
In the last month, the board has spent in between $10,000-$11,000 in repairs for gas lines, sewer lines and the streets.
Wolfe estimates that 95 percent of these costs are associated with gas line repairs.
Shell said that residents should be cautious when crossing the holes.
Both Wolfe and Shell wish the problem didn't exist, but say it is out of their hands.
Both Wolfe and Shell are hoping to have the entire project completed as soon as possible. Wolfe estimates the repairs to the gas lines will be complete by Sept. 1. Shell said that the street department is working as quickly as possible to repair the streets, but had no definite answer as to when they would be totally repaired.
robbie.byrd@atmoreadvance.com