In January of this year, Marion County Road Superintendent Jim Hawk requested of the county commission approval for the purchase of four new dump trucks as a capital outlay for the Marion County Highway Department. Hawk said that the cost of repairs and the lost time for having vehicles down was punitive to his budget and schedule. Despite the undercurrent of concern over the price tag, which was just under $500,000, the board approved the expenditure through a formal resolution for the capital outlay note in February’s regular meeting to be administrated by Citizen’s Tri-County Bank for a seven year payback.
The realization of that purchase has come to be as several county officials helped celebrate the arrival of the fleet of trucks to the Highway Department this week. Mayor David Jackson said of the new trucks, “The main thing is these trucks are a whole lot safer coming down or climbing mountains. It’ll also cut time because they can haul a little more per load than the existing trucks…probably three or four more tons per load. That’ll obviously cut down on the number of the loads.” Jackson went on to say, “I think it’s a great investment for the Highway Department. But for me, and I think everyone else, safety has got to be number one and it’s been a long time coming so we can do better for our citizens as far as having better roads and these will be a big help doing that.”
Commissioner Roger Grayson had a different appreciation for the purchase. “The quality of truck that you’ve bought for the money and it’s going last a long time and these’ll hold their value much better than what the Highway Department has had before.” The Highway Department recently auctioned off several vehicles as “excess” and brought comparatively decent money, but only returned a small a fraction of the original purchase value of the vehicles.
Commissioner Kenneth “Penny” Skiles echoed the sentiment also. “I think [the purchase] will do the county a good service.” Skiles also reminded residents about the budget for the county highway department. “Jimmy (Hawk) doesn’t get any money from the taxpayers, it all comes from state [gas tax] and TDOT out of Nashville.” Skiles emphasized that the gas tax comes form every person that buys gas in the state whether they’re from “California or your neighbor.” “People say, ‘Well, that’s my tax dollars,’ and it’s not really…not exclusively it’s tax dollars from everybody that buys gas in Marion County just passing through also,” SKiles said.
Commissioner Kenny Cookston spoke to the priority of the purchase. “I think it was a need. These are more modern, fuel efficient trucks and you’re probably looking at fifteen twenty years use out of them which will save the county a lot of money in the long run so I think it’s a good thing myself.”