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County sets policy for installing, removal of traffic devices

A resolution creating a policy for traffic calming procedures for county roads was approved by unanimous vote during the July 25 meeting of the Washington County Commission.
“We have had a lot of complaints about speeding in subdivisions,” Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins said. “But before we do anything, we felt like we needed to have this in place.”
Deakins, Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford, County Attorney John Rambo and members of the Public Works Committee worked together to develop an initial policy concerning traffic control devices and measures that may be used in response to needs for such devices.
According to the resolution, the Washington County Highway Superintendent will consider the installation of traffic calming measures when a citizen or county commissioner makes a formal request.
The request will be placed on the agenda of the next Public Works Committee meeting for review and recommendation.
If committee members approve further study, the Highway Department will prepare a map and petition sheet.
At least 67 percent of the total occupied households within the designated area must sign the petition approving a traffic study and potential traffic calming devices.
Deakins will make the final determination on the installation of any traffic calming measures, and has the discretion to modify or remove existing devices without notice.
Commissioner Roger Nave questioned Deakins’ authorization to overrule a subdivision majority vote and make changes without notifying the public.
Rambo said these points were discussed and debated during meetings to develop the policy.
“Under state law, the control of the roads is left to the highway superintendent, and the commission cannot usurp this power,” Rambo said. “You can plan for calming devices and it all looks good on paper, but it’s a disaster (when installed.) The highway superintendent needs to be able to remove them immediately in these cases.”
The resolution will take effect immediately.
In other business, Commissioner Mark Ferguson apologized for making a derogatory remark while talking about the Japanese plants located in the county’s Industrial Park during last month’s commission meeting.
“I didn’t realize what I said until I listened to the tape, and I didn’t mean to offend anyone” Ferguson said. “I voted for every dollar spent in the Industrial Park, and I’m proud to have Koyo Corp. and Nakatetsu in the community.”
Eldridge thanked Ferguson for making the apology, and said he understands how a person can misspeak and say something he does not mean.
“I’m sure that’s what happened,” Eldridge said.
Larkey also thanked Ferguson, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”
During the meeting, Larkey also nominated Dickie Wines to fill the vacancy left in the Third Constable District after Mike Ford was appointed to serve on the county commission and in doing so, was forced to give up his role as constable.
No additional nominations were received from the public or other commissioners for the constable position.
Wines received unanimous approval and was officially sworn in to the office by Eldridge during the meeting.
Ford transferred the badge of constable following the completion of the oath.
Wines is a veteran police officer with the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety and has completed advanced training in a variety of investigation and emergency operations. He also is a certified instructor in several areas of weapon use.