99¢ for the first month
99¢ for the first month


K. William Boyer
Washington County News

BONIFAY- Residents of Dogwood Lakes in Bonifay say they have been patient long enough. They say they are tired of waiting for the county commissioners to allocate funding for road repairs. They also say they desperately need  to fix what some residents call errors to repair work to the county owned lake that residence say is beginning to take its toll on their property values. 

Kathryn Steplaw, a resident at Dogwood Lakes for more than sixteen years said the roads desperately need to be done. 

 "Trees have been pulled out." Steplaw said. "We have a very bad situation at the exit of Dogwood Lakes.”

Dogwood Lakes sits empty after being drained by the county

Steplaw said motorcyclists and motorists are complaining about the dirt at the exits of the neighborhood, saying they are skidding on the road due to dirt buildup.

“We can be a gem in Holmes County, she said. "I know what can be done to bring people in. 

Steplaw said when the lake was drained due to the issue with the plug it was promised to be repaired and put back at the correct level. But, Steplaw said that promise has not been made. Steplaw said the lake will sit several feet lower than it original sat due to the plug being put lower than the original lake line and because the county said they did not have funding to refill it, it will take years to refill, which it hurting all the residents property values. 

"That lake is my security for my house," she said. I" don’t want to be paying the taxes I am for weeds. It was not right for you to promise us to put the lake back the way back it was and then we ask questions you don’t answer questions.”

According to the commissioners, the lake permit said has to be lower than the originally been done.  Clint Erickson, commissioner for the district including Dogwood Lakes, said that the overflow calls for a one foot difference in the new design and submitted a new permit to raise it up.  He said in order to do this the county would have to work on the other side of the lake on the creek side.

“Our hands are tide,” Erickson

Another resident said less than thirty percent of residents in Holmes County pay taxes, while 100 percent of Dogwood Lakes residents pay taxes.

"Unfortunately a lot of the good will that came from the county assisting in repairing the lake was taken when the residents discovered the issue with the drainage difference," the resident, named Ann, said.  "It would have been much better if the county commissioners had come to Dogwood Lakes instead of the other way around. I used to live on a lake, I don’t anymore and likely won’t for two more years. It is very depressing.”

Erickson said that several people cannot afford to pay taxes in the county. The commissioners he said cannot force a change on who pays taxes in the county as it is set by a state statute.

“There is just no money,” Erickson said. “If this happened ten years ago that lake would still be dry.” 

The president of the Friends of Dogwood Lakes said  It has been three years since the lake was drained  and it will start effecting property values. 

"It can lose 20% percent of tax revenue for Holmes County," she said. "There is a section of Sheerwood and Marion that is almost un-drivable. $9,000 was given for pot hole repairs (last budget) but we are past that."

Dogwood  Lakes requested 70,000 in this year’s budget  for repairs to the road and develop a three year plan to avoid having to come before the county again. 

The county owns the roads and the lakes in Dogwood lakes, whose conditions affect the property values of the homes in the neighborhood.

The Friends of Dogwood Lakes said they want to work with the commissioners instead of having to due class actions lawsuits to get what they need done.

“That’s not fun and that’s not what we want.” The organization said said. “[We] believe we can bring it back together but it is going to take all of us.”