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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Residents take action

Thursday, November 6, 2008

After enjoying the wonderful view of the leaves turning, these visitors from Missouri sat down at Biggers Steakhouse to enjoy a cold drink and warm dinner. Biggers Steakhouse is one of the few places on Biggers Bluff that still has water after Clifton Johnson of Biggers Bluff Corporation, failed to make water payments to Hardy resulting in Hardy cutting off the water supply to Biggers Bluff. Photo/Amanda Powers
After two weeks without water the residents of Biggers Bluff have started to take action.

Biggers Steakhouse owner, David Bathrick, said he has seen well drilling trucks up and down the road all week. Bathrick had to have a chlorinator put on his existing well to bring it up to health department standards, which he said was done at the beginning of the week.

The reason these people are without water is not because they did not pay but because Clifton Johnson of Biggers Bluff Corporation, failed to pay Hardy for water usage for two years. The people of Biggers Bluff were given bills of assurance stating rural water was provided when they purchased their land at Biggers Bluff.

Wayne Watkins, the developer of the community, is a fugitive who is said to be in Mexico. Watkins made an agreement with the city of Hardy during the development of Biggers Bluff, stating he could run a water line off one of their lines to supply water to the bluff.

Watkins had his own pump station and water facilities where there was a commercial water meter placed to determine the water usage. The residents of Biggers Bluff were to pay Biggers Bluff Corporation for their water usage and Biggers Bluff Corporation was to pay Hardy. While the residents held up their end of the deal, Biggers Bluff Corporation did not.

As of Oct. 21, Johnson (Biggers Bluff Corporation) had not paid Hardy for water usage in two years. The water usage charges owed to Hardy are $21,700. The Hardy City Council voted unanimously to cut off the water to Biggers Bluff until the debt is paid in full.

Mayor Nina Thornton took action Oct. 21 at 8 a.m. cutting off the water supply. Thornton said she does feel for the people who are affected by this situation, but she is in a position where she cannot give away free services.

As a result of Hardy turning off the water to Biggers Bluff, about 20 families and an entire campground is without water. The Arkansas Health Department told the residents there is no law stating people have to be provided with water.

Several residents of Biggers Bluff have tried to contact officials to see if there is anything that can be done about the situation but every time they are told the same thing, "There is nothing we can do." Between them, the residents have spoken with the Attorney General's Office, the Governors Office, the county judge and several attorneys, but they all agree there is nothing that can be done legally.

"I guess I'm just going to have a well drilled, I can't wait around anymore," Sam Oakley said. Oakley and his wife have had to travel to Melbourne, where they have family, to shower. Oakley said he just doesn't see how this can go on.

Oakley said one of their neighbors is a woman with a disabled child who is a renter. She has had to pack up and move due to the situation. He said it is just sad to see, but once everyone gets a well dug, they won't have to worry with the situation ever again.

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