by Kelli Barnes
A group of Tyler County delegates met in Austin last week to "reignite our bond with Austin elected officials," said former mayor of Woodville, Jimmie Cooley. "Tyler County has always been special in Austin and the goal when we visit our elected officials there, is always the betterment of Tyler County."
Delegates attending the Austin trip included Tyler County Judge Jacque Blanchette and wife Leeza, a local business woman; Marilyn Owens, wife of District Judge Jerome Owens; Tyler County Commissioner Martin Nash and and wife Claudia, an educator for Warren ISD; Commissioner Jack Walston; Commissioner Rusty Hughes; Sue Shaw, administrative assistant to the Tyler County Commissioners; County Auditor Jackie Skinner; Chairman of the Republican party and assistant superintendent of Warren ISD, Mike Paddie; Woodville Mayor Ben Bythewood and wife Aimie, a local attorney; Ivanhoe Mayor Jack Brockhause; former Mayor of Woodville, Jimmie Cooley; local business owner Fred Sullivan and his daughter Elizabeth/an Austin resident; local business owner Robert Allison; local bank president Trey Allison; local business owner Lee Mann; local attorney Lindsey Whisenhant; local business owner Lonnie Grissom; local business owner Gill Tubb; local business owner Billy Read and wife Stephanie; local business owner Terry Riley; local dentist, Dr. Brian Babin; local dentist, Dr. Caleb Spurlock; local newspaper manager, Kelli Barnes; sheriff elect/Chamber president and Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace, Bryan Weatherford; Woodville city police officer Phil Ryan; Justice of the Peace Pct. 2 Steven Sturrock; DETCOG director Walter Diggles and wife Rosie; Jason Riley with DETCOG; and Jasper County Judge Mark Allen.
Local logger and business owner Billy Read had the opportunity to express his concerns to Governor Rick Perry about the maximum legal gross weight for log trucks on roads and bridges in East Texas.
According to logging coordinator for the Texas Logging Council, Charles Gee, the current weight limit for bridges is 34,000 lbs., with a 12 percent tolerance for loggers who hold a special permit. "The '20/60' permit, allows loggers to carry 38,080 lbs. on the driver axle and 37,400 lbs. on the trailer axle," said Gee. "These weights are interchangeable, depending on which axle is the heaviest."
County Judge Blanchette told the Booster Tuesday that the Deep East Texas County Commissioners and Judges Association are discussing the possibility of hosting a meeting with the five state representatives within their Association, to present those concerns by both the logging industry as well as county government, to propose any legislative changes in the upcoming session.
"One idea would be if the loggers could stack half of their load with the heavy butts of the log near the cab as usual, and then stack half the load the other direction," said Blanchette. "I know this has never been done before, and a few adjustments would have to be made, but it would distribute the weight more evenly, to address the weight issue.
"The mills would also have to agree to allow logs to come into their facilities stacked this way."
In the past, loggers carried loads as heavy as 140,000 lbs. over these bridges. Governor Rick Perry said. "Maybe we can come up with a number that works for everyone." The current weight restrictions were set through legislation and will have to be changed by a vote from the legislature.
"This trip was particularly important because we were allowed to bring 35 delegates and we were able to discuss protecting our water and our logging industry," said Cooley. "We are appreciative to the governor, to representative James White and to Secretary of Agriculture, Todd Staples for taking the time to meet with us about our concerns."