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Supervisors Address Logging Scrutiny

District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn points to road damage caused by loggers on County Road 87. – Photo by David Howell

By David Howell

YALOBUSHA – Loaded logging trucks are a common sight in Yalobusha County, as one of the county’s prominent crops, timber, is headed for the mill.

    In a letter to the editor in last week’s Herald, almost 50 Yalobushians expressed concern over the county’s current ordinance that requires a $2,000 bond to be posted in order to receive a permit when timber is going to be hauled on county roads.

    When the bond is issued, loggers receive a permit to exceed the posted weight limit on county roads. They also become responsible for any damages incurred while hauling the timber, and supervisors can assess monetary damages against the bond. Additionally, the county ordinance allows each supervisor pick the route on which the log truck must follow in an attempt to cause as little damage as possible to the roads.

    In the letter, the landowners, who are members of the Yalobusha Forestry Association, reported the $2,000 becomes an expense that comes right off the top of the purchase price of the timber that the landowner is selling.

    That allegation prompted several county supervisors to counter that claim.

“Ninety percent of the people paying taxes and using the county roads do not have timber,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn said about the issue. “We are also fully aware of what a huge cash crop timber is in Yalobusha County.”

    Like many roles performed by supervisors, this issue becomes a balancing act.

    “We are trying to meet these loggers and landowners in the middle. We want to help them get this crop out,” Vaughn told the Herald.

    A possible misconception in the public, pointed out by Vaughn, is that if there are no damages, the logging company does not receive the $2,000 bond back from the county. This is simply not true, according to Vaughn. In fact, in the vast majority of the cases, the logging companies have not been charged for damages.

    Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn, who handles the paperwork, examined 159 permits that had been posted since January, 2006, and determined that 15 different assessments totaling almost $12,000 in damages had been charged to logging companies in the same time period.

    “If there is no road damage, the timber company is getting the bond money back,” District Five Supervisor Tillman said about the policy.

    “One question, is the landowner getting the $2,000 back from the timber company if they were charged for it?” Tillman asked.

    Both Vaughn and Tillman agreed, if a landowner has any question about a bond posted after selling timber, they should contact their supervisor.

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