Heavy equipment permits up for discussion

Chris Bagwell, right, talks with police jurors.

By Bonnie Culverhouse

Whether a parish ordinance requiring permits for heavy equipment is doing its job will be discussed at greater length at the January meeting of the Webster Parish Police Jury.

Jurors met Thursday to look at the permits, and opinions were divided.

“We’re doing these permits at $50 a truck,” jury president Jim Bonsall said. “But we’re not doing it for everybody.”

Permitting officer Chris Bagwell has been patrolling and warning trucks that are not permitted since July.

District 11 Juror Steve Ramsey recommended the jury “go all out” and get scales and hold the trucks responsible.

Steve Lemmons, juror for District 7, is in favor of continuing the permits.

“It generated $27,000 last year,” Lemmons said. “To me, it’s important to the parish.”

Being able to permit the trucks fairly is Bonsall’s argument.

“Do you think every truck in Webster Parish has a permit that should have a permit?” Bonsall asked.

Lemmons pointed out that is Bagwell’s job as permitting officer.

“He’s doing a good job,” Lemmons said. “Let’s let him do it.”

Trucks needing permits include tandem axle vehicles weighing more than 20,000 pounds. Log trucks are exempt as they are considered “agriculture.”

Bagwell said he told jurors from the beginning that this would be a three- to five-year project, and revenue from the program should improve with time.

“In the first six months, I was in a learning curve,” Bagwell said. “I’m seeing $60 to $70,000 a year, and I haven’t even hit the landfill.”

Bagwell said 50 to 60 percent of the trucks are permitted, and 90 percent of the drivers who don’t have permits say they were unaware of the ordinance and immediately go to the police jury office and obtain one.

Money collected from the permits goes into the parish road fund.

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