Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 29, 2013

Cherokee Commissioners reactivate License and Weight program

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — A divided Cherokee County Commissioners Court debated at length about the issue, but ultimately reinstated the defunct License and Weight program during a meeting held Monday.

The matter passed 3-2. Precinct 1 Commissioner Kelly Traylor, who put the item on the agenda for vote; Precinct 3 Cherokee County Commissioner Katherine W. Pinotti;  and Precinct 4 Commissioner Byron Underwood voted for the measure, while County Judge Chris Davis and Precinct 2 Commissioner Steven Norton voted against.

In a related matter, commissioners also passed a budget amendment for $40,000 to pay for the program, voting along similar lines.

A license and weight officer is expected to be hired in a few months. This official's duties will include monitoring the abuse of county roads, such as tracking down, weighing and giving tickets to truckers exceeding weight limits.

The strongest protest to the reactivation of the L&W plan came from  Norton, who appeared angry and emphatic about the issue.

Norton said the money would be better spent to offset the possibility of budget shortfalls and even future staff cuts.

"There is nothing you can say that can convince me" otherwise," Norton said. " … If we're taking money out of reserves to do this, then we can't afford it."

Pinotti and Traylor pointed out the money originally was in the budget for the officer but was placed into reserves when the program was mothballed.

The issue was voted down by a  majority of commissioners in November.

Traylor contention that a license and weight officer is needed in the county because of rain-afflicted roads was also countered by Norton's argument that an L&W officer might drive away business crucial to the county.

Earl Dominy was the first person to fill the L&W Officer position. Former Jacksonville Police Officer Ricky Moore was the second.

After Dominy resigned in 2006 to further his law enforcement career and Moore resigned in 2012 to become a county animal control officer, no replacement was selected.

The program eventually was placed into limbo to save money.