Collapsed bridge put back up by community

Selma, Ore. — Dozens of Selma residents were stranded for five months after a bridge collapsed near their home.

It took $30,000 dollars to rebuild it – money they had to raise themselves.

The Josephine County Public Works Department says the bridge on 3 Mill Road has a lot of history.

The department says the same exact thing happened 20 years ago and the county wasn’t able to help then, either.

“We funded it ourselves… We bought it,” Norm Cegelnik said.

Norm and Dixie Cegelnik are one of 20 families who were land-locked for five months last year after a bridge on 3 Mill Road collapsed.

The neighbors- forced to leave their properties over someone else’s private land.

“We stayed home a lot!” Dixie Cegelnik said.

After all the snow and rain in January of 2017, the bridge washed out.

So the residents asked the county for help, but eventually found out it wouldn’t be possible.

“It’s a non-maintained road so we don’t take any maintenance over those types of structures,” Josephine County Public Works Director Rob Brandes said.

Public Works Director Rob Brandes says while the bridge is located in Josephine County, the county doesn’t take care of non-maintained roads or bridges.

He says the bridge would need to be brought to county standards before being formally taken into the system which would cost homeowners ten times as much as the bridge itself.

According to the Cegelniks, the county uses the bridge to access certain timber lands.

“Ironically, the county is using it right now,” Cegelnik said.

Brandes says he contacted the county forester who has confirmed timber sales in the area.

But the county is allowed to use the road like anyone else.

“That land is public right of way. So you or I or anyone else has the legal right to go walk over that, but there’s no formal burden on the county to maintain it,” Brandes said.

The Cegelniks tried several other options for getting money including funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“What we needed was Josephine County to handle the money to receive the funds. And then just hand them to our contractor. It was only $30,000,” Cegelnik said.

Brandes says the funds would have to go through an agency and the county can’t sponsor the bridge.

That means the residents had to come up with the money themselves.

“Most of the money came from our neighbors and Illinois Valley residents and some of our relatives,” Cegelnik said.

While the family says the process was long and frustrating, he end result highlights what’s really important in life.

“Everybody pulled together and ya know, it was just great to know that you had people that cared about you,” Cegelnik said.

The Cegelniks would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who chipped in on the bridge.

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