Group aims to own Jenkins bridge soon
Historical Preservation Society working to take possession of property
The Jenkins Bridge Historical Preservation Society has obtained its non-profit status and is hoping to take possession of the Jenkins bridge in coming months.
Dawna Skaggs, president of the Society, said the group had hoped to take possession by the end of 2019, but more things still need to be done.
“The county has been great about giving us time, and we are ready and set to go,” she said. “We have T-shirts for sale to help raise funds, and we are looking to have the bridge in our possession in early 2020.”
Gary Youngblood, Barry County presiding commissioner, said the county is aiming to donate the property to the non-profit.
“We are working with Great River Engineering and out legal counsel on a list of what will be needed for [the Jenkins Bridge Historical Preservation Society] to take it over,” Youngblood said. “As soon as all the boxes are checked, we will donate it. Sooner is better than later.”
Skaggs said the Society is going to insure the property, at a cost of about $1,000 per year, then they plan to do some work on the bridge.
“We want to make it more accessible to walkers by moving the rocks,” she said. “That will make it more user-friendly. You still cannot and will not be able to drive a car over it. The bridge will also need repairs to the railings and some boards, about $10,000 worth over the next year or two.”
Skaggs said there have been fundraisers, like a Homestead Pickers concert, but fundraising has slowed while paperwork is being completed.
“Because we are a 501(c)3 now, we can accept monetary donations and those are tax deductible,” Skaggs said. “Jenkins is getting run down and we want to make this bridge something people want to come and see. It’s a 110-year-old bridge, and we will also look to get it on the national and state registries, like the historical bridge and preservation registry and the preservation registry. Work on that will begin as soon as we take full ownership.”
Concerns about the bridge came to a head in February 2019, when the county commission held a meeting at the Clio community building in Jenkins to determine the bridge’s future. About 75 people were on hand, with county officials saying they did not wish to tear down the bridge, but the county’s liability concerning the structure was a worry.
At that time, county leaders said it would cost about $70,000 to repair the bridge, but that expenditure would only provide a “five-year Band-aid.” To make it passable for vehicles, the county estimated about $500,000 to $600,000 in costs, and dismantling the bridge would cost about $20,000.
The plan for the bridge going forward is to be only pedestrian, with vehicles not allowed to cross.
For more information about the Jenkins Bridge Historical Preservation Society, people may call Skaggs at 417-846-7923.