By Matt Barbour, Weekend Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -- Every time it rains, a Rhea County couple has to deal with major flooding and runoff issues at their business and they say TDOT is to blame.
The couple owns a gun store and museum off Highway 27. In 1985 when they first built the business it was level with the then two lane highway. They say ever since TDOT expanded the highway, they have had to do constant work to fight runoff and flooding.
"It doesn't have to be a big rain. There's erosion if there's a little bitty rain," says Richard Newberry.
Richard and Kathy Newberry say runoff runs directly off Highway 27 into their gun shop. "My husband for 20 years has to keep re-doing everything he's done," says Kathy.
The Newberry's say they have spent more than $100,000 over the years re-grading the land and putting in a retention pond, they say, can not handle all of the water, all in efforts to save the land and their business.
"You can see here where it's cracking and I've patched this probably have a dozen to a dozen times," Richard says, pointing to the side of his business. "Twice now I've had to dig up the water pipes and the sewage and repair them because the building on that side keeps dropping down."
"If TDOT would come out and look, it's obvious, we can show them drains that aren't there that they say are supposed to be there. Well, they're not there," says Kathy.
In 1996 the Newberry's took TDOT to court and a jury ruled in TDOT's favor, but they appealed and a judge granted the Newberry's a new trial. A new trial date has never been set.
In the meantime, Richard and Kathy keep sending letters to the governor and TDOT. "Let's see if we can work it out," says Kathy.
TDOT says there has not been a new trial because the Newberry's keep asking for more time.
The state tells Channel 3 in statement: "The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) worked diligently to reach a settlement with the Newberrys. After no settlement could be reached, the negotiation was then turned over to the Attorney General's Office. As long as a trial is pending, the appropriate procedure is for the parties to work through their attorneys."
"I'm getting old and I can't do this anymore. I just can't flat do this anymore," says Richard.
The Newberry's say they currently do not have an attorney and do not want a long, drawn out legal battle. They just want to talk with TDOT.
The case is ultimately up to the Attorney General's Office on how it is handled.