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MS Capital Cheers ‘Pothole Robin Hood’

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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A Jackson, MS, man dubbed the “Pothole Robin Hood” has just achieved his quest of filling more than 100 ignored potholes around the capital city with materials lifted from a government stockpile.

Ron Chane, a local T-shirt designer and businessman, has been doing a quickie fill on dozens of holes in his town's crumbling streets using stolen asphalt from the state Department of Transportation.

Ron Chane fixes potholes

Ron Chane's one-man crusade to fix potholes has drawn fellow residents' approval.

Chane even signs his work "Citizen Fixed."

Townspeople are thrilled; town officials are not.

Breakfast Jolt

Chane's mission arose spontaneously on the way to breakfast over Memorial Day weekened, he told news outlets. After bouncing through one alignment-wrenching, teeth-banging hole too many, he says, he decided to act.

The materials came from a DOT pile of asphalt that Chane says was so old that it had plants growing through it. Chane and his girlfriend quickly developed a rapid-fire scoop-fill-and-smooth routine that patched a dozen holes the first day.

Pothole Robin Hood

Ron Chane, the Pothole Robin Hood, completed more than 100 quickie pothole patching jobs in the past six weeks in Jackson, MS.

After that, Chane announced that he wanted to fill 100 holes in all, calling the current state of the streets damaging and dangerous.

"We thought, 'what the heck,'" Chane told local station WAPT-TV.  "It's kind of like Robin Hood for potholes.

"You go steal some asphalt from the city, and you put it in the holes, and when you get finished with it, you get spray paint and you put a big circle around it with a big shiny arrow right there to help the city see the potholes."

Chane hit the 100-hole mark on July 8 and kept going. Local reports say he has filled 101 holes.

Quick Fix

Chane has also spent about $40 of his own money on the project, he says.

Chane admits that the patches are temporary; he does not claim to be doing the job professionally and is not sealing the holes. Nevertheless, he contends, it's better than doing nothing. And city crews have completed permanent fixes on some of Chane's handiwork.

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba Ron Chane

Ron Chane (right) says he has committed no crime in stealing unused DOT asphalt to patch potholes. However, Jackson's new mayor, Chokwe Lumumba, says he cannot condone the theft.

"It's hard to have a good city without good infrastructure," Chane told ABC. "And our city simply does not have the budget."

Chane contends that he has committed no crime, because he is using the asphalt for its intended public purpose, not keeping it. He called the stockpile "the people's asphalt."

"I'm probably stealing from the city, but there's not a sign saying, 'Don't take this and put it in potholes,'" he told MSN Now. "So I'm putting [the asphalt] back where it belongs.'"

Cheers, Jeers

So far, residents interviewed by local media have given Chane's crusade a thumbs-up.

"People joke that Jackson is a Six Flags because the roads are so bumpy," Zachary Boozer, of Jackson, told ABC News.

Boozer said the potholes "are pretty widespread" and cause cracks in the streets. People and cars have also fallen into sinkholes, he said. Reports to the city's pothole hotline get no action, he said.

Pothole - Jackson, MS

The patches aren't sealed and probably won't last, Chane said. Still, he says that they are better than nothing and that using publicly owned asphalt is no crime.

"The problem is that they don't respond immediately," Boozer said. "After you call, they put you on a waitlist. The city is too backed up with requests to fix potholes. This is definitely raising tensions."

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who was elected July 1, said he supported civic improvement and citizen initiative but could not condone theft of public property.

"We do not accept any use of the city's resources without going through the proper legal channels," Lumumba said in a statement.

Chane has not been charged with any crime.

   

Tagged categories: Asphalt; Concrete repair; Construction; Maintenance programs; Roads/Highways

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