Quorum Court approves hire of additional grapple truck driver, purchase of road department tractor : KZHE News Blog
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Quorum Court approves hire of additional grapple truck driver, purchase of road department tractor

by J.D. Bailey on 10/06/20

The Columbia County Quorum Court on Monday passed two appropriation ordinances designed to hire additional solid waste personnel, as well as improve the county’s road equipment fleet.

In a 9-1 decision, the county’s governing body appropriated $40,314 to add a grapple truck operator to improve solid waste pickup. Of those funds, $29,244 will go toward the driver’s salary, while the remaining amount will go into social security, retirement, and health insurance costs.

The hire will give the county a total of two grapple truck operators. Columbia County Judge Denny Foster said Monday that the additional driver will ensure that both of the county’s grapple trucks can now run waste pickup routes. Both trucks are expected to feature a two-man crew featuring one driver and one collection hand.

“I’ve got an extra hand on one [truck],” said Foster. “On the other one, we’ll pull a hand from the landfill.”

When voting on the matter, Justices of the Peace Marjie Blair, Penny Cook, Oliver Thomas, Terry Williams, Steve Lee, Annette Pate, Burnie Sharp, and Lynn Story all approved of the hire, while JP Russell Thomas cast the only dissenting vote. JP Jason Ray was not present.

Local solid waste complaints had risen in the summer, but, on Monday, JP Oliver Thomas, who heads the Quorum Court’s solid waste committee, said he had received only a small number of complaints over the past month. One issue dealt with a delayed trash pickup, while another citizen reported a case of broken wheels on his trash canister after being emptied.

The quorum court on Monday also moved $125,000 from its Asphalt Fund into its Machinery and Equipment Fund for the purchase of a new tractor to be used by the Columbia County Road Department. The move was made to replace an old, often-sidelined road maintenance tractor.

“I’ve got one that’s been in the shop eight, nine, 10 weeks this year, and they still haven’t got it fixed,” said Foster. “It’s just becoming a liability at this point.”

The judge noted that the funds for the tractor purchase were available in the Asphalt fund and that he wished to fill the equipment void this year. The tractor will be used for bush-hogging, according to Foster. The judge said he plans to shop around to find the best deal on the new purchase.

The appropriation measure was passed unanimously by the court. Before the vote, JP Russell Thomas asked the judge why the Asphalt funds were not being used for road paving.

“Due to the weather, we haven’t had a dry enough period to use it,” Foster replied. “That’s the reason we’re taking part of [the funds] out.”

The judge also said that the frequent breakdown of the old tractor has hindered the county from working at its full potential.

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