Questions Arise Over Meramec Farms Road

Crawford County commissioners debated with Steelville resident Don Gruver over the status of Meramec Farms Road on Tuesday.

Gruver wants the county to vacate the road, a nod to an agreement made in June 2014. 

Commissioners will not agree to that unless each property owner living there signs a petition affirming their desire to see the road vacated.

“If one person objects, we will not vacate,” said Presiding Commissioner Leo Sanders.

The commission is waiting on an opinion from Prosecuting Attorney David Smith, which frustrated Gruver.

He said the county has “harassed” him for five years and that per former Prosecuting Attorney William Seay, the road must be vacated.

“We want our rights back,” Gruver said. “Judge Seay said it was a done deal.”

The issue over Meramec Farms dates back several years. According to Three Rivers Publishing, a public hearing was held on a petition to close a portion the road in June 2014. 

Then-District 1 Commissioner Paul Watson said the road was a public thoroughfare and under county maintenance. 

Gruver led a group of Meramec Farms Road landowners who wanted the road closed. 

TRP reported that cattle guards were installed across the road and Watson said a sign denoted the area as “private property” even though it wasn’t.

Property owners argued that the county had not maintained the road, but Foreman Danny Brown said that during his employ with the county, they had always provided work.

On June 24, 2014, former District 2 Commissioner Kenny Killleen made a motion that the county would not perform any work on Meramec Farms Road from the Kemnitzer cattle guard to the Gruver cattle guard for 60 months for the purpose of legal abandonment. 

The motion was made on the advice of former Prosecuting Attorney William Seay. To abandon the road, Seay said, no county funds could be expended on it for five years.

All three commissioners voted yes.

Gruver referenced Seay’s argument on Tuesday and called the abandonment “a done deal.”

The commission disagreed.

Referencing an incident that occurred on Meramec Farms Road in early 2015, Watson rescinded the motion and said maintenance would continue.

Gruver was not deterred.

“You have nothing to do with the road,” he said.

Sanders attempted to end the discussion, but Gruver continued. 

“Why is this road so important to you?” he asked. “Who’s pushing the buttons on you?”

Gruver has long had an issue with people allegedly trespassing on the road.

Gruver submitted an editorial to Three Rivers Publishing in February 2016 where he criticized the county for working on the road and called it “a playground for drunks, poachers and anyone else who takes a notion to use it.” 

Gruver said their livestock were shot with bullets and paint balls. Turkey and deer were poached and their property was used without permission to access the river.

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