Dispute continues over cattle guards

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

Two weeks before a court date with Quay County officials over the removal of cattle guards, Lee Stone had to put down a horse he says was injured by on of the devices.

Stone, 64, said he and his son, Dusty, have been fighting to remove cattle guards from their property for the past three years.

“We have argued that these cattle guards have been forced on us,” Stone said Tuesday. “Now one of the cattle guards we have been asking the county to remove has caused the death of a filly.”

Stone and county officials are scheduled to appear 11 a.m. Thursday in Tenth Judicial District Court for a hearing in the case regarding the removal of the cattle guards.

Stone said the filly broke its leg Feb. 4 while trying to cross the cattle guard.

He said the horse broken its leg bone above the hoof, an injury resulting in the termination of the animal.

“The horse would have suffered greatly from that injury, putting it down was the humane thing to do,” said Dusty Stone. “That horse was promised to my daughter McKenna Stone. It was an incentive for doing well in school, doing chores around the home. Now because of the cattle guard, her dreams are crushed.”

Lee Stone said he has argued the county has not maintained the cattle guards in a manner fit for public safety.

Dusty Stone said on the morning of Feb. 4, he and his family were going on a wagon ride when they found the filly near the cattle guard.

“She got out of the fence somewhere near my dad’s house and was heading back to my house it seems,” Stone said.

Stone said snowy conditions blocked off an alternate route the filly would have normally taken.

He said the filly appeared to follow a trail that made by a county snow plow.

“The road is bladed because it is a mail route,” Dusty Stone said. “The blade pushed the snow up over the bypass route and the horse chose the path of least resistance.”

Stone said it appeared the horse attempted to jump the cattle guard and its front leg sank between the pipes.

“If that cattle guard had not been there, my little girl would have been feeding her horse that morning not saying goodbye to her,” Stone said.

Stone said the loss of the horse is a completely separate legal matter he and his family will have to take up with the county.

“Cattle guards are installed when a property owner has land on both side of a county road,” said Quay County Manager Richard Primrose.

Primrose said livestock typically will not cross cattle guards so they often serve as gates for the property owner. He said it still allows vehicles such as school buses and mail vehicles to cross over them.

Primrose declined to comment on Thursday’s hearing or the filly’s death, citing the possibility of pending litigation.

Primrose said a cattle guard is placed at each end of the property to give livestock access to both sides of the road.

“A property owner furnishes a cattle guard and the county installs it,” Primrose said.

Lee Stone said in court filings that cattle guards “restrict his use of the road” and prevent him from driving his horse-and-wagon team from one piece of property to another.

“I just want them taken off my property,” Stone said.