DOVESVILLE, SC (WBTW) – A student who lives on one Pee Dee road said his school bus driver would not pick him up for several days this past school year because the road is in bad shape.
“If they were living on this road, the road would probably be fixed up where they could drive on it,” said Cameron Graham.
Graham, 14, lives on Flatnose Road just off U.S. 52 in the Dovesville Community of Darlington County. While a portion of the road is paved and considered a county road, the rest is privately owned and unpaved.
“It just keeps getting worse and worse,” Graham said of his road. “There are trees leaning to the side of the road and if we have another hurricane, the trees will block us in and that’s the only safe way out.”
Graham said that’s what happened late last year after Hurricane Matthew. He said when the roads were cleared and his school re-opened, he was told the bus would not come down his road.
“I’ve been told by my bus driver on D-3, ‘You need to do something about this road because I can’t get back and forth to pick you up,'” Graham recalled.
Instead, he was told to walk and wait at the end of Flatnose Road where it meets busy U.S. 52 – a nearly one-mile walk.
“My mother is visually impaired; I couldn’t make my way to the top of the road,” explained Graham. “That shouldn’t be my problem, worrying how I’m going to get back and forth to school.”
Frustrated, Graham was told to speak up, and that’s what he did at last month’s Darlington County Council meeting. Graham listed for council members his concerns about his road, and how important it was for him to be in school each day.
“We pay county taxes on our cars and our property,” said Graham. “Our roads should be up to par where my bus can come back and forth to pick me up every day.”
County Administrator Charles Stewart said County Council looked into Graham’s requests following last month’s meeting. Stewart said there wasn’t much the council could do, since the last part of the road is privately-owned.
Stewart did say the county is responsible for maintaining safe traffic on this road, and said dirt-laying and other maintenance does take place on the road.
Darlington County Schools officials promised to make sure all students have a safe way to school.
Cameron Graham is proud just to have brought an issue important to him to the rest of the community.
“After I went to the meeting I’ve had [Darlington County School Board member] Mr. Connell Delanie, Sheriff Tony Chavis, the deputies, and even some of the county council members tell me, ‘Next time the bus doesn’t come pick you up, don’t call them, you call us and we will come take you to school,'” said Graham.