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MONDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2007
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A large sinkhole on Lyle Poteet’s Somerville farm is now wreacking havoc on his barbed-wire fence.
Daily photo by Ronnie Thomas
A large sinkhole on Lyle Poteet’s Somerville farm is now wreacking havoc on his barbed-wire fence.

Getting a sinking feeling
Large sinkhole continues to grow at Morgan farm

By Ronnie Thomas
rthomas@decaturdaily.com · 340-2438

SOMERVILLE — It’s a growing problem.

And as Lyle Poteet sees it, the only remedy to stop the unwanted bulge on the old Poteet family farm is a soaking rain.

“There isn’t one in the forecast anytime soon,” he said.

A giant sinkhole first noticed Friday in a hayfield about 600 feet east of his house at 3364 East Upper River Road had grown significantly by Sunday evening. Poteet attributes the sinkhole and the continuing cracking of the ground nearby to the lingering effect of the drought.

More of what was the sinkhole’s rim caved in during the past two days, basically extending the hole in all directions, he said. The hole is 75 to 80 feet from the two-lane asphalt road.

“That would be a heck of a detour, wouldn’t it?” he said.

On Friday, when he first discovered the phenomenon, Poteet estimated the hole to be about 36 feet by 42 feet. He stepped it off Sunday at 6 p.m., coming up with an estimate of about 66 feet from east to west and about 75 feet from north to south.

Also Friday, the ground had eroded underneath metal fence posts along a fence line separating the hayfield from a cornfield Poteet said that Ted Grantland owns. By Sunday, the erosion had claimed three posts, leaving them dangling above the hole, connected by barbed wire. The erosion had crept about three feet into the cornfield.

And at another location near the major sinkhole, a line that been only a crack in the earth Friday had caved in, leaving a bank 2 to 3 feet tall.

More sightseers

Poteet said nearby residents and numerous sightseers have driven past the property during the weekend.

“I saw it in The Daily on Saturday and drove over,” said Huey Sharp of Brooksville. “I’m back today because my wife, Gloria, wanted to see it.” He parked his pickup in the cornfield, near the fence line.

Beverly Holland wasn’t that brave. She stopped on River Road and walked over. She lives in Rivermont Oaks and voiced concern.

“I’m only about a half-mile away as the crow flies, and this could be me next,” she said.

Poteet, who owns Ace Tree Service & Stump Grinding, said he intends to fill in the sinkhole with wood chips and scrap wood once it settles.

“I don’t expect that, though, until after a good soaking rain, and who knows but God when that is going to be,” he said. “This might be an ongoing saga, although I certainly hope not.”

The hayfield is part of a 120-acre farm that Poteet said has been in the family since the early- to mid-1800s. He said other owners of the farm are his mother, Margie Poteet, and his first cousins, Jennifer Blanchard of Decatur and her brother, Basil Weinman of Rockville, Ind.

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