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Baggerley residents say Lamar left them behind

By Kay S. Pedrotti A relatively small corner of eastern Lamar County, once known as ‘Baggerley,’ is cut off from the rest of the county by I-75 and bracketed on the other side by High Falls Lake, residents told the Lamar board of commissioners last week. ’We’ve been left behind for 21 years,’ said property owner Fern Gentis. ‘We just want to know that we won’t be left behind forever.’ The area comprises about 20 homes, but only parts of 12 properties right next to the lake are considered in a 100-year flood plain, said field appraiser Chad Littlejohn with the Lamar tax assessor’s office. The residents there have Jackson addresses but pay an annual average of $500 for each parcel to Lamar County, Littlejohn said. ’The values of the property are in the lakefront land,’ said Littlejohn. ’We pay county taxes but we don’t get county services,’ Gentis continued. The only access road involves driving across a creek feeding into the lake, she added. ’It’s bad enough when it’s dry,’ she continued. ‘When it’s flooded, we just can’t get home. Many were isolated in the flood of 1994 because the only way out was to walk the woods to I-75, and then where would you go? We need all kinds of support from the county ‘“ sheriff’s patrol, animal control and most of all a solution to the creek problem. Emergency services would not always be able to get across the creek to us.’ She praised their commissioner, Robert Heiney, who has visited the area and talked to the residents. ’There are no quick solutions,’ said Heiney at the meeting. ‘I threw out some ideas with the residents, just as thoughts, but we need time to work on this.’ He said a way to pay for an engineering study is one thing to consider, which would be needed in order to fix a creek crossing without damaging the lake environment. ’We need more strategy and planning, but I assure you this is at the top of the list I think about every day. Please be patient with us,’ Heiney added. One resident nodded and said she had lived there for 15 years: ‘I’m patient.’ Heiney said more information would be gathered and he would continue to work with the residents.

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