Cliff Clark General Manager/Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
December 9, 2013
In a 3-2 vote, the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen on Monday, Dec. 2, passed an ordinance to prohibit commercial trucks from using what is known as a “jake brake” on Jefferson Avenue.
During the regular monthly meeting at West Jefferson’s Town Hall, the aldermen also offered their thanks to outgoing alderman Lester Mullis, who didn’t seek a second term on the board, and welcomed incoming alderman James Reeves.
The “jake brake” issue and the excessive noise it creates in downtown West Jefferson was first discussed by the aldermen during the November meeting. During that meeting, the board instructed Town Manager Brantley Price to draft an ordinance to prohibit the use of the device on Jefferson Avenue from Second Street to the intersection of Buck Mountain Road.
However, once the issue was opened for discussion, there was a difference of opinion on whether or not the ordinance should extend beyond Second Street to include the roadway that includes Radio Hill.
Reeves supported the ordinance to not include the Radio Hill area of Jefferson Avenue and said, for him, it was a safety issue, especially with the possibility of having the traffic signal removed from the Second Street/Jefferson Avenue intersection for the planned construction of the next “streetscape” project.
Stephen Shoemaker, however, supported prohibiting the use of the brake on Radio Hill because its use created excessive noise for those living in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Alderman Calvin Green agreed that trucks “have no business” using the jake brake in downtown. However, he said he had spoken to several truck drivers that deliver goods to his store and that he had been told by them that they usually encounter the prohibition in towns that are level.
For Green, excluding Radio Hill from the ordinance was a safety issue.
Alderman Tom Hartman said he had spoken to a truck driver who told him when a driver sees the signs prohibiting the use the braking device, they slow down accordingly. Hartman asked the driver about using the device going downhill. Hartman said the driver told him there are “no hills around here that you couldn’t slow down safely without using the jake brake.”
Hartman supported including Radio Hill in the ordinance.
Dr. Brett Summey, serving as mayor pro-tem because Mayor Dale Baldwin did not attend the meeting, said he could understand the use of the device in an emergency situation on Radio Hill, but supported the idea of including Radio Hill in the ordinance.
“I think there should be a sign up there,” Summey said.
Shoemaker made a motion to adopt the ordinance prohibiting the use the braking device on Jefferson Avenue from the top of Radio Hill to U.S. 221.
Shoemaker, Hartman and Summey voted to prohibit the use of the device on Jefferson Avenue. Green and Reeves voted against the ordinance.
Before the discussion on the ordinance, outgoing Alderman Lester Mullis offered his thoughts on what has occurred during his tenure on the board.
Mullis listed all the projects the town has completed over the last four years and said he was proud of its accomplishments. He also thanked the aldermen and the town’s staff for their assistance.
“It’s been an interesting ride,” Mullis said. “Maybe one day I’ll be back…you never know.”
In other business:
• Price reported on efforts to purchase a press for sludge at the wastewater treatment plant.
• Price reported the GE Aviation incentive grant will be signed in the next week and that $713,000, or 69.4 percent, of the town’s tax levy had been collected.
• W.J. Police Chief Jeff Rose reported 200 calls were dispatched in November with 20 vehicle collisions investigated, 11 people arrested for DWI, larceny, assault and drug-related crimes.