Deputy Jailer steps into sinkhole near courthouse

Published 9:03 am Thursday, January 25, 2018

Photo by Abigail Whitehouse
The Lincoln County Fiscal Court meets Tuesday morning.

STANFORD — A deputy jailer was walking by the Lincoln County Courthouse Sunday when the ground beneath him started to disappear.

Tony Miracle wasn’t injured, according to Lincoln County Jailer Rob Wilson, but a wooden bench now covers the sinkhole he stepped in as he made his way around the courthouse steps toward the entrance of the jail.

Wilson said the hole was 18 inches wide, 35 inches long and 37 inches deep.

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Lincoln County Judge-Executive Jim Adams told fiscal court members Tuesday morning that engineer Luther Galloway had examined the sinkhole.

“We don’t know what to attribute it to …” Adams said. “We have a major water leak out here that’s on the Stanford Water side. We called them bright and early yesterday morning because Luther suggested that it’s not really a stretch that that sinkhole could be attributed to this monster leak we’ve got out here.”

Adams said he was told the leak had been there for “quite some time.”

Galloway advised the county not to fill the sinkhole until the leak was fixed.

“As soon as they fix it — Luther advised us not to fill the hole — we’re going to wrap the gas line with felt and then we’re going to put fill in that sinkhole,” Adams said. “He (Galloway) said if there is a stream running, it’s going to pull that fill out and it’s going to continue to sink so we’re going to heed his advice and wait until they fix the leak, and then we’ll fix the hole.”

Plans have already been made to resurface the entire parking area, which is where the sinkhole opened, he added.

“It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen and has been for a while. That’s procrastination on my part. We will get that fixed,” Adams said.

Adams said he had concerns about the stability of the front area of the courthouse but was reassured by the engineer.

“Luther assured me when we poured the new surface with wire mesh, there would be no danger, even if you have a sinkhole, there would be no danger of vehicles falling through that wire mesh.”

The resurfacing of the parking lot between the jail and courthouse should be done in the spring, he said.

Adams didn’t have an exact cost for the repairs available Tuesday morning but said it would be “minimal.”

Stanford Waterworks crews were working late Tuesday night to fix the leak, according to Wilson, and didn’t finish up until about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Wilson said the courthouse and jail will be under a boil water advisory until Thursday (today) and notices will be posted on all areas affected.