RUSK – Plans to interview a license and weight officer for Cherokee County were approved by county leaders Tuesday by a slim margin, with Judge Chris Davis casting the tie-breaking vote.
Commissioners Kelly Traylor of Precinct 1 and Pct. 2 Commissioner Steven Norton voted in favor of the motion, with Pct. 3 Commissioner Patrick Reagan and Pct. 4 Commissioner Billy McCutcheon voting against the motion passed, resulting in a 3-2 decision.
Prior to the vote, Reagan told fellow members of the court he was “still in the same position I was before; I'm not going change it,” he said. “If you're dead-set on a license and weight officer and not utilizing to an extent the assets that are available through the constable's office …. But if y'all feel this strongly about it, I don't want to be the one who holds it up (if it could benefit taxpayers).”
The position has been vacant since earlier this year, with the retirement of Officer Terry Roach, who, for six years, enforced regulations affecting operator licensing, insurance, size, weight and registration of commercial vehicles.
At this time, a handful of applicants have applied for the position. If hired, the new officer would only serve through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, and the court would have to approve the position for the upcoming fiscal year, according to court officials.
Meanwhile, during past commissioners' court meetings, Traylor and Norton emphasized the need for a replacement officer, who not only helped regulate use of the roadways, but whose actions also help prevent future problems by ensuring proper usage.
“There's money still in the budget for this officer, so it's not like we had to go find money to this … we have about three more months left in this budget,” Traylor pointed out during the meeting, for which he compiled statistics from the previous year to give the court a clearer idea of the impact the position has on the county.
In 2018, Precinct 2 issued the greatest number of permits – 64 – while Precincts 3 and 4 issued an average of 31 permits between the two areas. Precinct 1 issued 18 permits.
A total of six citations were issued, while 106 warnings were issued to commercial drivers.
According to the same data, Precincts 2 and 4 received $717,630.91 for road repairs, while the remaining two precincts received none. (After the meeting, Traylor said that commercial vehicles utilizing roadways in his precinct “paid up front the necessary materials needed for road – instead of the county writing out a check for the material, they just provided the material to put down.”).
With inclement weather playing a large factor in the conditions of roads throughout the county – storm damage this year already has included buckled roads, washouts and damage of varying degrees – the presence of a license and weight officer would ensure that commercial vehicles didn't further exacerbate the problem by carrying heavy loads across undesignated routes, Traylor and Norton said.
“The rain never stops,” which directly affects the condition of roads, especially those under constant repair, Traylor said. “Because we don't have a license and weight officer, they're not following the bridge (route) that I give them that provides the safest route. I need someone out there with a little bit more law enforcement and authority out there to help. It sure would cut down (on) some of the damages we've had.”
Norton pointed out to the court that in his precinct, “I have one road that would take every dime on this page” alone to repair, and the addition of a license and weight officer would help keep taxpayer costs down by ensuring proper routes were utilized by commercial drivers.
“If they're not on these roads, they can't tear them up,” he explained.
Also during the meeting, the court granted approval for two requests by the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.
The first was was to dispose of illegal weapons – two machine guns and what Sheriff James Campbell termed a “street sweeper” – by trading them to the owner of Superior Arms and Machine, who is federally licensed to deal with firearms. This trade would cover the cost of servicing weapons – some of which are older – utilized by CCSO officers, he said.
A separate CCSO request called for moving three insurance checks totaling $3,079 from general funds to a line item for the department that would allow for future auto repair.
The court also approved a tax resale bid of property previously struck-off to Bullard ISD, approved a request by Alto Rural Water supply to lay utility lines along County Road 2604 and approved a consent agenda to pay bills, payroll and transfer of funds.