Story by Mayor Sonny Parsons
In “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “Water, water everywhere and nor any drop to drink.” Well, for a long while on Wednesday and Thursday here in Big Sandy there was certainly “water, water everywhere” but in the middle of Hwy 155.
Water first started bubbling up by the flag pole in front of City Hall then it moved and created a geyser in the middle of the highway. It was at that point the Big Sandy Water Department went into repair mode. Public Works Director Scott Rogers got the crew organized and began searching for the exact location of the break. Since they were dealing with a state highway, he and Chief Tim Scott made several calls to TxDOT. Replies came in slowly, so some quick judgement calls had to be made. Mayor Sonny Parsons met with Rogers, Police Chief Tim Scott and Fire Chief Jeff Jones to make sure all bases would be covered in case of broken gas lines, road hazards, etc. The intersection of Hwy 80 and Hwy 155 is a very heavily traveled road so a coordinated traffic control plan with the Police and Fire Department was set up.
There was no other choice at the time… one lane of Hwy 155 had to be shut down while excavation took place. A real team effort was seen as these various departments worked together and made safety a priority. The mayor had City Secretary Laura Rex send out a Code Red Message so that citizens could have time to prepare and store some extra water, if necessary. By around four on Wednesday afternoon, the repairs were under way. To shut off the water, Rogers had to find the four different locations of shut off valves that controlled water going through the two-inch line that was broken. The valves were scattered from Pearl Street to College Street to Wildcat Drive.
For the next eleven hours – until nearly four o’clock Thursday morning – personnel from the City Water Department, Volunteer Fire Department, Police Department, and volunteers fought near freezing temperatures to get water service back to the community and likewise not have any accidental injuries due to traffic or equipment problems. There was no grumbling, only hard work carried out with shovels, backhoes and saws. The community responded in several important ways. Working together, groups and individuals provided warm food, drinks and moral support. Many were volunteers and doing it out of love and concern for the City employees, Fire Department, and community.
To wrap this up: By four o’clock on Thursday afternoon – twenty-four hours after starting the repairs – they were finished and service had been restored. There were many involved with this event and the Mayor and City Council extends their profound thanks for working and/or providing food and hot beverages.
Water Department employees: Scott Rogers, Joe Pope, Kerry Murray, and Duane Mize; Police Chief Tim Scott, Officers Tony Pradia and Clint Norman; Fire Chief Jeff Jones, Capt. Ken Danapas, and rookie Fireman Mike Moseley; Mayor Sonny Parsons, Councilmen Don Cochran and Chase Saxon, City Secretary Laura Rex, Water Clerk Deborah Giles. Supporting their husbands were Julie Rogers, Sarah Jones, Janice Mosely. Organizations and local businesses were also supportive. Lion Gerri Thompson provided Subway sandwiches and coffee; Rotarian Dwayne Canup contributed hot chicken strips and rolls; and Nanny’s Porch owners Jackie and Wayne Davis along with Michael and Linda Baggett supplied Thursday’s lunch of pizza from Two Rivers Grocery. The citizens of Big Sandy can rest easy and be assured that the city staff and volunteers are willing to go to any lengths to make certain the citizens’ needs are being met.