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Guthrie business claims state officials are bullying them, damaging property

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GUTHRIE, Okla. - Some businesses and residents in Guthrie are being forced to make way for a new bridge and wider road.

In 2007, officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced a plan to replace the bridge over Cottonwood Creek.

While many people believe the upgrades will help flooding issues in the area, it is also forcing businesses and nearby homeowners to move.

Sign outside of Speed Lube in Guthrie, OK calls ODOT a "bully"

Sign outside of Benton's Service Center in Guthrie, OK calls ODOT a "bully"

Don Benton is the owner of Benton's Service Center and is begging for more time.

"We have 11-12 employees and we want to take care of them and keep taking care of our customers rather than being down for two to three months," said Benton.

 He wants to keep his shop open while his new business is being built.

"It's a long process and it's a frustrating process to build something, but we're doing our best," said Benton.

Business owners say they understand that they must relocate, but they say they're being bullied during this process.

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"This is not ODOT land" sign outside Benton's Service Center in Guthrie, OK

A sign outside a store reads, “This is not ODOT land.”

Benton says that transportation officials are not respecting his business or his property, and even damaged a sentimental marker at his facility.

"It was standing up right here. He just came over and kicked it over," Jackson Benton, Benton's grandson, said.

After Dexter, their shop dog of more than 14 years, died, Benton decided to create a memorial for him.

"The greatest dog there ever was," he said.

Now, he says all that is left of the memorial is a cross in several pieces.

Jackson says he saw a man kick the cross before throwing it across the yard.

Cross allegedly kicked across yard in Guthrie, OK

Cross for deceased dog allegedly kicked and thrown across a yard in Guthrie, OK

"That's when we asked them what they were doing and they said, 'This is our property," said Don Benton.

Benton says the men were attorneys for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

"They just don't really respect your property. It's just not fair," said Jackson Benton.

State officials released a statement saying their attorneys were allowed to be on site and claimed, "The wooden marker was accidentally knocked over- no property was maliciously destroyed and no harm was intended."

NewsChannel 4 did speak with a lawyer for Don and his family.

He said those attorneys for the state had no legal right to be on the property when the marker was destroyed.

Benton's lawyer said he had already filed court papers that effectively banned lawyers for the state from coming to the business.

However, the state disagrees, saying they had a right to be on the property.

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