Sherrell and State Rep. Tommy Wren then walked outside to the back of the building, where a 40-foot by 40-foot addition will soon be built to expand the shop.
Wren got a tour on Wednesday, Aug. 15, after he presented Sherrell with a check for $12,300 to help pay for the improvement.
"When the Judge was elected, I asked him if there was anything I could do to help the county," Wren said. "He said, 'yes,' we need more space to work on our road equipment."
The $12,300 was donated from Wren's General Improvement Fund, money all legislators receive to help with improvements, or to assist organizations who do good works in the counties they represent.
Wren recently donated $1,000 in GIF money to both the Izard and Independence County fairgrounds, so that appliances could be purchased for their community rooms. The assistance to the road department is one of the larger grants Wren has made, but he feels it is a worthwhile decision.
According to Sherrell, the addition to the building will allow two graders or dump trucks to be pulled in out of the weather for repairs, or to fix flat tires. The addition will have a 14-foot ceiling, so dump trucks can be raised enough for mechanics to get the access they need to make repairs and adjustments.
"Our workers are used to working outside on most equipment, no matter how cold or wet it is, so this is going to help them a lot," Sherrell said.
Road crews prepared the base for the addition last spring, using waste sand from the Bluebird sand mine. That has given the base time to settle, and work on the project will begin by the end of the month. County labor will be used as much as possible to reduce the construction cost.
Road Sign Thefts
On Aug. 15, Sherrell also discussed a frustrating problem that road crews are having to deal with -- vandalism to road signs.
Under a new 911 system, road signs, many bearing new names for roads, started going up last fall, and the process resumed this spring.
"We are having a big problem with people stealing or vandalizing the signs," Sherrell said. "The signs cost about $30 each, and the cost to the county really mounts up when we have to keep replacing them."
Izard County Emergency Management Director Bill Beebe said the process of replacing stolen or damaged signs involves fuel and labor costs, as well as the sign itself. Beebe added the real cost could be human lives. One of the main reasons for installing new road signs is to guide firefighters and other first responders as they work emergency calls. Missing road signs can delay their response time when people need help.
About 30 signs have been stolen or damaged in recent months, and authorities are keeping a close eye on the intersection of Jumbo and Mill Creek Road, because the sign there has been torn down at least three times.
According to Sherrell, the Sheriff's Department is on the lookout for sign vandals or thieves, and people will be arrested if they are caught in the act. Sherrell said charges will also be filed if deputies discover road signs hanging in a den or bedroom during the course of an investigation.