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Out-dated equipment cutting into county’s grass clearing time

Around Screven County, people may be having a problem keeping their yards cut with the last month of sunshine and rain being an almost daily occurrence, but the Roads and Bridges Department is having a terrible time trying to keep the county’s roads clear of tall, vision obscuring grass.
At Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Gary Crews said the grass cutting equipment is so outdated they have not been able to make a single lap around the county yet. Road Superintendent Travis Forehand made a “wish list” and presented it to the commissioners.
Two tractors with 15-foot mowers attached valued at $135,000 would make a near immediate impact on the county’s way-behind grass cutting schedule, Forehand said. Other items include a truck, 9-foot disk harrow, excavator, and service truck with a crane.
Commissioner Crews also suggested not using inmate labor for the grass cutting work force as they’ve been tearing up equipment too fast for the one mechanic to fix.
“The inmates do not help anything; in fact they cause a lot of problems,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it. They’re inmates, they don’t care and there’s nothing you can do to them. They tear up more than they’re worth, but we still need better equipment to help with this.”
Forehand said it wasn’t the inmates abusing the equipment per se, but their knowledge of heavy equipment.
“It’s not so much abusing, it’s not knowing what to do so much all the time,” he said. “It’s kind of like when you cut grass you know not to go in that ditch, they don’t know no better. They get down in the bottom of it, they get stuck and in order to get out they get it hung up, burn the clutch in it, whatever.”
Commissioner J.C. Warren said there’s still plenty of cost-saving county-wide by using inmate labor, and that all problems can’t be blamed on them.
“I have seen DOT people by the side of the road and they get stuck and we have to pull them out too,” he said.
Warren said first of all the county needs better equipment, and then once the county has that they could come up with a way to keep that equipment from getting broken as much – whether they need to hire people or continue to use inmate labor would be debated at a later time.
The board voted in favor of buying Forehand two John Deere 6115D 4-wheel drive open cabin tractors with 15-foot mowing attachments for $135,000. The money would come from SPLOST or from a lender like Association of County Commissioners of Georgia with a low interest rate.
The tractor was chosen because of its reliability and part availability.