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      Oswego lawmakers question abandoned sand quarry project and taxpayer waste

      Oswego county's highway superintendent Curt Ospelt had nothing to say after a legislative review of his alleged mishandling of a sand quarry project that wasted tax payer money.

      Our Jim Kenyon was first to report about how neighbors in Hannibal caused Oswego County to abandon a project to mine sand or winter road maintenance. This afternoon legislators took up the issue. For the past two weeks, Oswego county administrator Phil Church has been investigating this failed project and says he found no intentional wrongdoing on the part of highway superintendent Curt Ospelt.

      Ospelt was on hand to answer legislator ' s questions, but it was Church who did most of the talking. Later, he gave his assessment of what went wrong.

      Phil Church said, "I believe the project was undertaken with the best of intentions, but not all of the processes we have in place were followed."

      As we reported, last year former county legisla t or Jack Beckwith contacted highway superintendent Ospelt and offered him the opportun i t y to mine sand from his property in Hannibal.

      The county needs an inexpensive source of sand for roads in the winter, but neighbors claim that they knew nothing of Beckwith's lease ar r ang e ment with the county until highway crews built an access road connecting the quarry to Route 3 last month. Their complaints forced Ospelt to abandon the project and tear up the road.

      Originally the amount of taxpayer money wasted on the failed project came to $43,000, but now they figure it is just $10,000. After today's meeting, Jim asked the Hannibal resident who brought this to our attention if he was satisfied with the review.

      Tim Harmon said, "Not at all. Oops is not okay. You can't just go put in a road, spend taxpayers money and then take out the road. None of the residents were notified. The process was not done."

      Oswego County Lawmakers did agree to change procedures as a result of the controversy. They will now make sure that all lease arrangements go through proper legislative approval that people are notified in advance and all permits are properly obtained.