SKYLINE, Ala. - There is a battle going on between residents and the Jackson County Schools system.
Mitchel Stubblefield told WHNT News 19 the Skyline High School septic system has been leaking sewage onto his property for years. He claims the school is now putting up a fence through his driveway in retaliation.
Stubblefield spent much of Tuesday afternoon bulldozing a new driveway for his family.
“That was our driveway. It had been there for 30 something years,” said Stubblefield as he showed WHNT News 19 around his property.
He lives near Skyline High School and right across the street from its septic tank and eight-acres of fuel lines.
“The sewage got so bad that you’d come out to the front porch, and it would stink so bad, you’d want to go back in the house,” explained Stubblefield.
He said sewage leakage has been a problem for decades.
“I talked to county commissioner over this district yesterday and he told me that 28 years ago, he was trying to get this fixed out here and said it was leaking on top of the ground then,” said Stubblefield.
The county commissioner he spoke with is a relative of one of Stubblefield’s neighbors who dealt firsthand with the leak.
Stubblefield claims his son-in-law called the district numerous times over the last ten years to get the leak fixed, but to no avail.
The straw that broke the camel’s back happened over the summer.
“One day one of my grandbabies got into the sewage up there and he decided that was kind of the last straw,” said Stubblefield
Stubblefield's son-in-law called the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board.
The board sent the school district a letter that said they needed to fix the problem.
Jackson County School Superintendent Kevin Dukes said they immediately got to work.
“One of the things they did say was to secure the area, put in some dirt and stay off of it for the most part,” said Dukes.
Dukes said the fence is to keep people from getting onto the property and potentially damaging the vent pipes or the field lines.
“Some piece of equipment not belonging to Jackson County came onto the property and knocked over one of the vents down and that caused part of the leak,” explained Dukes.
While he did not specifically point fingers at Stubblefield, Dukes said Stubblefield often bush hogged the field.
Stubblefield said he had a verbal agreement with Dukes and a former superintendent that he would bush hog the field if he could fence a small portion of the school’s property to hold his mules and a horse, as well as, grow a small garden in another corner of the field.
Stubblefield told WHNT News 19 he believes the fence is being put up in a way to impede his driveway to target him and his family for calling the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Board.
Regardless of how the leak started, Dukes said he is doing everything he can to put an end to the issue.
“I got the letter on June 4 from Montgomery. Our maintenance guys pretty much Monday through Friday, every day of the week, come out here to make sure there’s not any leakage,” said Dukes.
Stubblefield continues to ask questions. If the sewage was leaking 28 years ago, why is it just now being worked on and how is putting up a fence and packing dirt on top of the sewage solving the problem?
Stubblefield offered to buy the property in front of his home but Dukes said the value of the acreage is around $100,000 less than what it would cost to install a new septic tank somewhere else.