Tougher rules for loggers proposed

The man in charge of maintaining the county’s 770-plus miles of roads is asking for more leverage when it comes to dealing with loggers responsible for damaging some of those roads.

County highway superintendent Warren Martin recently told county commissioners that loggers, especially those from outside the county, have been tearing up roads by loading and sometimes even overloading their trucks sitting on the roads.

He said he monitors such activity but had little way to make those loggers pay for any damage they cause.

Martin said most Jackson County loggers keep him informed of their operations and try to do the right things, but the problem stems from outside loggers with operations in the county.

“The roads are taking a beating when they load and overload these things,” Martin said Wednesday.

Commissioners discussed an ordinance designed to help recoup the cost of repairing county roads damaged by logging activity.

County attorney Susan Bevers said the ordinance requires logging operators to construct a loading site on locations away from county roads and require loggers to build a drive to the loading site.

Bevers began working on the ordinance after Martin raised the issue during a commissioners meeting in April.

She said farm equipment is exempt from the ordinance.

Commissioner Matt Reedy asked Bevers if utility companies also might be exempted.

She said they probably could be but she would need to do some additional research.

The ordinance would require loggers to post a surety bond to cover the cost of repairing 2,500 feet of roadway in any direction from the entrance to the loading area for each operation.

They also would be required to build the temporary drive, also requiring a permit, to the loading area, and that likely would mean installing a culvert for county ditches along the road.

Martin said the highway department would need to assess the condition of roads in the area before determining the amount of a surety bond for each operation.

Bevers said the surety bond is nothing more than insurance to cover the cost of having to repair or replace a road damaged by logging activity.

Reedy said he would prefer to enact the ordinance Wednesday night to give Martin something with “teeth in it.”

Commissioner Tom Joray said he would like some additional time to review the proposed ordinance.

In a related matter, Martin presented commissioners with a check for $8,638.57 from a Lawrence County logger for damage to County Road 90N in Owen Township. The money will be spent for road work, he said.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.