Archived Story

Cass County adopts ordinance to monitor commercial vehicle traffic

Published 7:32pm Friday, December 2, 2011

CASSOPOLIS — By an 11-3 vote Thursday night, the Cass County Board of Commissioners adopted a 10-page commercial motor carrier safety ordinance.

With an increase in commercial vehicle traffic coinciding with road commission “maintenance challenges“ due to state and federal funding reductions coupled with state staff reductions, the sheriff’s office “will need to more closely monitor commercial vehicle traffic to ensure the safety of residents,” according to Resolution 162 of 2011.

Proponents, such as Commissioner Robert Wagel, R-Wayne Township, said having the ordinance “would greatly increase not having our roads torn up by overweight trucks” while furthering cooperation between the road commission and sheriff’s office.

“The road commission has scales to provide for the weighing of vehicles. We’re going to be having training for deputies involved in this,” Wagel said. “We’re a leader as about the second county to have this ordinance,” which comes from the Michigan vehicle codebook. “A lot of trucks traversing these highways do not have adequate braking systems. Loads are not tied securely.”

Commissioner Ed Goodman, R-Silver Creek Township, who voted against the ordinance along with former chairmen Robert Ziliak, R-Milton Township, and Johnie Rodebush, D-Howard Township, said it elevates local police to a “higher level” with warrantless cargo inspections.

Sheriff Joe Underwood said the advantage of operating under a county ordinance rather than state statute is that 70 percent of fines deputies collect through enforcement return to county coffers.

“Now, 70 percent of those funds go to the State of Michigan,” the sheriff said. “The road commission came to me about this ordinance and I went to the judge. She gave her stamp of approval because she has to agree to collect fines. Then it goes to the state police for a memorandum of understanding. There is no additional cost to the county.”
Rodebush said, “At least 20 years ago, this came up at a MAC (Michigan Association of Counties) workshop. The state police has trained motor carrier people and equipment to do it. It didn’t go anywhere back then.”

“Louis (Csokasy, road commission manager) has portable scales,” Underwood said, “but he didn’t want his people enforcing vehicle code violations. He felt our people are better trained for that. Instead of me deputizing his people,” as was done years ago with Mel Osment, “our deputies will be enforcing statutes, leaving the road commission to take care of roads.”

“The state police do a wonderful job,” Commissioner Charlie Arnold, R-Cassopolis, said, “but they focus more on state highways, whereas county primary roads get a lot of truck traffic.”

Cass County board meeting schedule

Cass County commissioners Thursday night approved their 2012 meeting schedule.

Regular meetings are set for Jan. 5 and 19, Feb. 2 and 16, March 1 and 5, April 5 and 19, May 3 and 17, June 7 and 21, July 5 and 19, Aug. 2 and 16, Sept. 6 and 20, Oct. 4 and 18, Nov. 1 and 15 and Dec. 6 and 20.

All meetings start at 7 p.m.

Commissioners’ last 2011 meeting falls on Dec. 15.

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