Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 16, 2012

Commissioners decline to reinstate License and Weight officer position

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

RUSK — Once upon a time, Cherokee County's License and Weight officer was the go-to guy.

Charged with tracking down, weighing and giving tickets to truckers exceeding the weight limits on county roads, this officer was seen as making a major difference.

One former commissioner went as far as to say that by monitoring the abuse of county roads, the  person in this position could bring the county out of the dark ages.

Apparently, that perception no longer exists. The position was dissolved for budget reasons earlier this year and the majority of commissioners refused Tuesday to reinstate it.

Voting to bring the officer slot back were Commissioners Bryon Underwood, Precinct 4, and Kelly Traylor, Precinct 1. But they were in the minority.  

Steven Norton, Precinct 2, was against the idea. He said he is concerned a county road officer handing out large amounts of tickets could drive away business crucial to the county.

"I want Cherokee County to be the place they fight over to do business," Norton elaborated after the meeting. "When you have someone trying to sell timber and we get a reputation for being unfriendly to truckers, it will get to the point where it affects the price."

Norton said he also was concerned about budget constraints that made it impractical to recreate this position. He added that once budget woes are alleviated, he might be willing revisit the issue.

Conversely, Underwood has for some time expressed concern that loggers are coming and going through the county as they please and there is no one to stop them.

"I believe that the need has arisen for us to have one," Underwood said at a July meeting. He could not be reached to elaborate Thursday.

The opinions expressed in the county commissioner meeting Tuesday were a far cry from those voiced during the days of L&W Officer Earl Dominy, the first person to fill the position.

Dominy was often praised for his work stopping illegal dumping along Cherokee County roads, helping curtail local drug traffic through the area, and even assisting in the wrangling of loose livestock.

"The importance of routing heavy traffic on county roads is invaluable," former Precinct 1 Commissioner Mary Gregg beamed in her praise of Dominy in 2006.

Dominy's replacement, Ricky Moore – a former Jacksonville Police Officer – has also been hailed for this work, having been photographed more than once corralling and handing out tickets to offenders.

But after Moore resigned earlier this year to become a county animal control officer (Dominy resigned in 2006 to further his law enforcement career) the paradigm seemed to shift.

No replacement was selected and the position eventually was dissolved for the aforementioned budgetary reasons.

The position obviously was more important then than it is now. Cherokee County Judge Chris Davis said it's simply one of those things.

"A different commission has different needs," Davis said "This was replaced early in the budget process. When everything starts booming once again I'm sure it's something we'll look at."

In the meantime, the responsibility of routing the trucks where they need to go will fall to commissioners, the judge said.