Local News

Farmer develops on county road

In 1894, an entry in the Thayer County Commissioners record granted an east-west road requested by Charles Harrold along current Road 7100 between Roads R and S. More than 100 years later, Road 32, as it is now deemed by the county, has been at the center of two petitions to vacate or abandon it. 

The road, which has been neglected, but not abandoned by the county, provided access to Kent Higel’s 80 acres until Higel saw a pivot pad had been poured in February. 

The Higels can’t access the road from the east side of Road 32 because it is closed.   

“When Bob Helget had that ground, the county went over that road once or twice a year. Then, it changed hands to Kent and the county quit doing it. That road is the only access to the 80 acres,” Doug Higel said.  

The ground next to the 80 acres is owned by Calvin Sales, who poured the pad and eventually installed a pivot. 

“The landowner has petitioned to abandon the road and understands the pivot pad is on a county road. If the road isn’t closed, he’ll move it,” county road superintendent Mark Timmerman said about Sales. 

Timmerman said from the county’s perspective, the road hasn’t been active for perhaps 30 years. Sales had the property surveyed and cleared the road of brush and trees, so he could farm it.  

Timmerman added he saw Sales was preparing to pour the pad and called Sales to tell him the pad was too close to the county right-of-way, but by that time, Sales had poured the pad. 

Sales said if he has to move it, he will. 

Sales seemed like he would be willing to work with Higel, Timmerman said. 

Doug Higel said he contacted Timmerman and county attorney Joe Casson. 

“I can’t get an answer if the pivot will be moved,” Higel said. “We’re entitled by state statute to access our land.” Without the road, the Higels have to navigate equipment across rough pasture terrain to access the property.

Timmerman and Casson inspected the road and listened to Higel’s concerns in March as Sales would soon prepare the ground for planting. 

“Calvin was told he could petition to have the road vacated,” Timmerman said. 

“He believed the road was abandoned since it wasn’t maintained, so he proceeded to treat it as his own,” Casson said. “Something legally has to be done with the ownership of the road.” 

Casson also referenced the heavy rains and flooding in 2015. 

“It washed out culverts and made the road impassable, but no one asked to have the road repaired,” he said. 

Sales has petitioned the county to vacate the road twice because of non-use and lack of maintenance. The first time, he had the required 10 signatures, but the petition itself wasn’t correct and Sales had to start a new petition.  

The commissioners passed a resolution in their July 5 meeting for Timmerman to conduct a study of the road to see if the road is beneficial to the county or not before Sales’ second petition  filed June 28 showed one of the 10 signatures wasn’t by a registered voter, and Sales must start the legal process over.

In that meeting, Kent Higel said Sales should have never been allowed to put his pivot on a county road. 

“You’re basically saying I could build a house on that road,” Higel said to the commissioners.