The Jones County Board of Supervisors will host a meeting to discuss requiring heavy-haulers to get permits to operate their trucks on county roadways, they said after a lengthy discussion in Monday morning’s meeting.

They decided to meet at 8:30 a.m. June 4 at The Magnolia Center to talk about the concerns of the companies and the county. The topic has been a concern for the board for some time. Chief Administrative Officer and board attorney Danielle Ashley researched what other counties do and learned that Perry County requires trucks over a certain weight to get a permit before using county roads. But an Attorney General’s opinion says that certain types of haulers, such as log trucks, can’t be singled out, she said.

Supervisors David Scruggs and Larry Dykes both pointed out that local companies haven’t been the problem. It’s out-of-towners who come here and take advantage of the fact that there are no requirements in Jones County, they said.

“They flock to us in the winter, when they can’t work anywhere else, because we don’t have any rules,” Scruggs said.

Board President Johnny Burnett suggested calling representatives of the companies and advertising the meeting in the newspaper before beginning any kind of enforcement. 

“We need to get them together to talk about the problems we have and let them help us solve them,” Burnett said.

Scruggs said he’s “never had a minute’s problem” with any of the local chicken-haulers or loggers.

“Gravel trucks tore up The Highlands,” Scruggs said. “They ruined the road that we had just fixed last year.”

Beat 3 Supervisor Phil Dickerson said some oilfield trucks have been “tearing up roads” in his district. 

“They get off state highways and cut through on county roads to avoid MDOT (law enforcement),” he said. 

Things that need to be discussed include which office will issue the permits and who will enforce the ordinance, if passed. They also talked about the possibility of requiring haulers to be bonded so damage to roads would be paid for or going after their insurance companies to repair roads.

The timing is bad, Burnett said, because of the shutdown associated with battling the spread of coronavirus. But he agreed that the problem needs to be discussed.

“The county is hurting as bad as it ever has, economically,” he said. “It’s a bad time to shut down the little progress we’re making.

“We need to do something, but we don’t need to make any sudden moves in the middle of this debris cleanup. There’s no telling what some of those trucks will weigh.”

Ceres Environmental out of Houma, La., was awarded the contract for the debris cleanup at a special meeting on Friday. The company is required to repair any road damage it causes as part of the contract, Scruggs noted.

The contractor was in charge of securing a site for separating and reducing debris and dump sites. The company will use Tim Parker’s land near the Beat 2 barn to burn and separate vegetative debris from construction and demolition debris, and those will be hauled to Randy-Danny in Ellisville and Pine Belt Regional Landfill in Runnelstown, said Paul Sheffield, executive director of the Jones County Emergency Management Agency.

In COVID-19-related news, Ashley said that Jones County Chancery Court was planning to start back in early June, but court officials requested that a plexiglass shield be installed and that a medical professional be stationed at the entrance to take the temperature of those going into court. South Central Regional Medical Center would provide someone for $10-$12 per hour, she said. It was noted that a person in a similar role for Lauderdale County wound up catching the disease.

Jones County Circuit Court has been back in session for all of May and court officials are monitoring temperatures, Ashley said. No shields are being used between the bench and court officials and those coming in the court.

Supervisors approved adding the plexiglass shield, but it has to be a temporary, separate structure, Sheffield said. Altering a historic building could compromise getting reimbursed by FEMA, he said.

Burnett pointed out that Gov. Tate Reeves removed restrictions on ballparks, so supervisors agreed to follow suit and allow Merchant Park to return to its regular schedule, with two practices per evening.

In other business, the board — with Supervisor Travares Comegys participating via teleconference — unanimously agreed to:

• Transfer insurance proceeds for hail-damaged vehicles at the sheriff’s department ($92,060) and the tax assessor’s office ($24,158.86) to their respective accounts;

• Issue permits to CenterPoint Energy to do work at several locations in Beat 3 — Briarwood Drive, Glade Circle Drive, Jordan Drive, Lakeside Drive, Lower Myrick Road, Orange Drive, Perry Road, Tanglewood Rive, Tom Windham Road, Victory Road, Wynnwood Rive — with the understanding that it would repair or pay for any resulting damage to county property;

• Allow Magnolia Cruisers to keep a donation from the board as long as it has its annual Make-A-Wish fundraiser car show on the rescheduled date of June 20;

• Accept $2,000 in drug-buy money from the District Attorney for the Jones County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Division to do investigations.

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