Truck Regulatory group has rough startThe Multi County Truck Regulatory Committee for Barnes, Stutsman, LaMoure and Dickey counties is off to a rough start after hiring its only staff person without input from the sheriffs of the four counties. A discussion of the hiring process took place at a regular meeting of the committee Thursday in Valley City.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Multi County Truck Regulatory Committee for Barnes, Stutsman, LaMoure and Dickey counties is off to a rough start after hiring its only staff person without input from the sheriffs of the four counties. A discussion of the hiring process took place at a regular meeting of the committee Thursday in Valley City.
“I’m hoping it will work but the foundation is rocky,” said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff. “I want to see it work but the sheriffs were only brought into this at the end.”
The authority has been in the works for many months. Each county contributed $25,000 for the purchase of equipment and $20,000 per year for operations. The authority has hired and is in the process of equipping an officer who will weigh vehicles using portable scales on the lookout for overweight trucks. To perform this task in all four counties the officer would need to be deputized in each. However, the authority to deputize an officer lies only with the sheriff of the county.
“Only a sheriff can hire a deputy,” said Jim Bohannon, Dickey County sheriff. “We should have been involved in this process from the start, not at the end.”
John Froelich, chairman of the committee and a Barnes County commissioner, said the hiring process was done in an effort to insulate the sheriffs from criticism on the issue.
“This is a sensitive job and a hot button issue,” he said. “The only reason we’re doing this is to try to protect the roads. We’re doing our part. We’ve put up a lot of money and want to see it work.”
The truck regulatory committee board is made up of two representatives appointed from each county. Most commissions appointed members of their own boards. That board hired Tim Gillespie during its February meeting.
Gillespie has also raised some concerns with the sheriffs.
“He seems to have a rocky past,” Kaiser said. “It appears he made some bad decisions in the past. It’s in his past and we’ll work with him.”
His hiring was defended by Dale Marks, Stutsman County commissioner and member of the Truck Regulatory Committee.
“We interviewed several people and he was by far the best qualified and we’re comfortable with him as an officer,” he said.
Kaiser said after discussion among themselves all four sheriffs have agreed to deputize Gillespie. He hopes the final arrangements of equipment, uniforms and other gear can be completed in the next month. At that time Gillespie would begin his patrol work.
“I hope it will discourage overweight trucks,” he said. “It’s going to take some give and take between all the counties.”
Kaiser said truck weight laws enforcement on rural roads is hit and miss.
“Right now Stutsman County doesn’t have scales,” he said. “We can call the Highway Patrol if we locate one we suspect but that takes time.”
Recent action by the North Dakota Legislature may add three additional truck regulatory officers to the Highway Patrol.
“The HP is spread pretty thin right now,” Kaiser said. “And any new officers sound like they will go to the Oil Patch.”
Truck drivers caught with an overweight vehicle face fines.
“The fines can get rather steep,” Kaiser said. “They can go well into the thousands and we’ve seen as high as $5,000 or $8,000 but somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 is more common.”
Along with enforcement Gillespie hopes to educate the public.
“Hopefully when we get working I can help educate people,” he said. “Go to every elevator and township and County Commission meeting and talk to people about what we’re trying to accomplish.”
“He’s out there to enforce the heavy trucks,” he said. “He’s not out there to pick on anyone.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com