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      Ben Hill Commissioners close six dirt roads and rename another

      Six dirt roads in Ben Hill County will no longer be maintained by public works after county commissioners unanimously voted for their closures on Tuesday evening.

      The six roads closed are Wood Duck Road, Big Sandy Road, the north end of My Own Road, Davis Road, Shop Road and Dixie Street.

      "We believe that these roads are no longer needed for public use, a couple of them have already been closed off and they're not being maintained by the county," said County Manager Frank Feild.

      Prior to the vote, residents were given a chance to voice their opinions on the closures, and some supported the move saying it would save money.

      Though none of the residents who took the stand opposed the closures, Latrelle and Carroll Kirkland, a couple who owns the land along Davis Road, says they're unhappy of how they found out about the proposal.

      "The main reason I was upset is because they did not let us know at all about the proposed road closing and we own more than half the road," said Latrelle.

      Now that the roads have been officially closed, the Kirkland's and any land owners along the six streets will be responsible for maintaining the areas themselves. Commissioners say the change of ownership will save money but will also cause them to lose around $1,500 of Department of Transportation funding.

      However, officials believe that loss is worth the savings they'll collect from abandoning the six roads.

      Roads were again brought up later that same meeting as commissioners made a motion to rename Ben Hill Drive from Peachtree Express to Evergreen Drive and from that street to Highway 129 as Martin Luther King Jr. Road.

      Commissioners say this is a joint effort with the City of Fitzgerald who is drafting a protocol on how to rename streets and say they need to do the same.

      Some of our roads run through both the city and the county and if the city renamed a road and the county did not rename that road, then you'd have the road change names two or three times, said Feild.

      Commissioners say they'll now begin drafting their own protocol for how to handle future requests that will work smoothly along with the city.