Supervisors consider truck permit option

Published 12:26 am Tuesday, October 3, 2017

NATCHEZ — Several truck drivers appeared Monday before the Adams County Board of Supervisors to oppose the idea of having to post a bond for driving their trucks on county roads.

The county had a public hearing on an ordinance for unusual use of a low-weight road. The ordinance could have impacted the timber and oil exploration industries, but also truckers who park their fully loaded 18-wheelers at their residences.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said in several instances sections of low-weight roads have been destroyed by heavy use. While Slover said the trucking industry is important to the county, blacktopping roads also costs taxpayers approximately $100,000 per mile.

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Slover said the county had to find a happy medium.

The county ultimately did not take action Monday, but several supervisors seemed to be leaning toward the suggestion of local timber company owner Billy Ulmer.

Ulmer said he was against posting a bond, as it could be expensive for the trucking company. Additionally, Ulmer said it would be difficult to prove that trucking alone caused the damage.

“How do you prove I caused a pothole?” Ulmer said. “All county roads are farmer’s market roads. There are people hauling all day. I don’t think all of a sudden when things get bad, you can look at one party — me in timber.”

Truckers are already taxed enough to use the roads, Ulmer said.

However, Ulmer said he would be agreeable to a system like Copiah County’s, where logging companies have to pay a $20 permit and the county routes them on the best roads.

“I have no problem coming to the board of supervisors and saying here is where we are working,” Ulmer said. “If there is a problem… you know who to come to.”

District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler and District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus both said they liked that idea.

“We need to stay friendly to locals trying to make a living,” Butler said.

Local timber company owner Conner House said he agreed with Ulmer. House said requiring bonds to be posted would result in a lot of money for only one party — the lawyers.

“Everyone would get money except the county and the poor man accused of tearing the road up,” House said. “If you do a permit (Road Manager) Robbie (Dollar) could tell us where to go.”

If a road is maintained properly and potholes are patched before trucking begins, House said he did not think a typical timber operation would tear the road up.

House said he also did not think a small-operation oil exploration job would cause major problems if the road was maintained.

“The huge fracking jobs, you may have to address those differently,” House said.

Several county residents also complained about the issue of parking 18-wheelers at residences, including Janice Dobbins. Dobbins said her husband parks his truck at their residence to prevent thefts. Dobbins said he does not bring the trailer.

Butler said if her husband is only bringing the cab home, it should not be an issue. Butler said the recent round of this issue popping up started on Booker Road, where a trucker was bringing an 18-wheeler fully loaded with steel to his residence.

District 4 Supervisor Ricky Gray said the people on Booker Road came to him because the truck is reportedly tearing up their road. However, Gray said the issue is county wide and not limited to Booker Road.

Lazarus said County Administrator Joe Murray would contact Copiah County to review their policy. Lazarus said the board would plan another round of discussions with truckers before moving forward.

“That is what a public hearing is all about,” Lazarus said. “To get good ideas. Y’all are the experts, not us.”