Oil company bankruptcy stalling county road repairs - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Oil company bankruptcy stalling county road repairs

Comanche County_If you have driven on some of Comanche County's roads recently, you may have wondered why they haven't been repaired.  Well, they will be, just not as quickly as in the past.  The company that supplied the county with oil to repair the roads filed for bankruptcy last summer, and it turns out the bankruptcy still is being felt...literally.

County Commissioners say they have had to change the process entirely to repair potholes.  Fixing them takes road oil that once was supplied by SEM Group in Oklahoma.  Now, the county must get the oil from out-of-state.  Not only has it slowed road repairs, it also is costing the county more money.  "The oils within this county were very available," said Comanche County Commissioner Gail Turner.  "We never had to go out of the county - or within about an hour - to get oils.  Now, Waco is about six hours off."

Waco is 220 miles from Lawton, and it's costly to transport oil from Texas.  "The freight is about $1,300-1,400 per transport load," said Turner.  So, the county has planned another way to provide the money for oil.  A tank that holds 8,000 gallons of fuel has helped over the past month.  "Agitates the oil, heats the oil, and keeps it where we can fill it right here in the barn on a regular basis," he said.  "With the weather conditions like they are, I feel that if we can keep another 30 days we will get a lot better hold on them."

It will be even better once federal stimulus money comes through.  While Comanche County didn't get any directly, those in the county still will feel the effects.  "Our projects were bumped up on the ODOT (Oklahoma Department of Transportation) and state monies," said Turner.  "We got one project that will be let in July, and would not have been let this early if the stimulus package wouldn't have been used to get some of the projects ahead of us off of it."

Until stimulus funding arrives, all county road travelers can do is be patient.  "We've been trying in every way - like a good business payer - for the tax payer to watch every penny that we are spending and be more productive with our money," said Turner. 

Commissioners say they still are looking for more oil suppliers closer to Comanche County who might have lower prices.  So far, they say they have had no luck.  In addition to using the new tank, they say they are using a high-performance asphalt to repair deeper potholes.
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