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Jefferson approves purchase of new sludge truck

Tim Church, left, gives aldermen (left to right) Bluferd Eldreth, Luther Anderson, Jr.,
Mayor Dana Tugman and Mark Johnston a glimpse of possible Blue Ridge Electric utility
trucks that could be purchased by the town to be re-purposed into a sludge truck.

Originally published: Dec. 20, 2012
Last modified: Dec. 20, 2012

Jesse Campbell

Because of necessary repairs, the Jefferson Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to appropriate funds for the purchase of a new sludge truck and to repair a damaged motor grader. 

Water Resources Director Tim Church told the board that the town's sludge truck was leaving the water treatment facility recently when the stabilizers that hold the truck's wheels in place came loose, significantly damaging the rear end.

After trying to fix the problem, Church said repairman noticed the truck's wheels had begun to “split near the hubs.”

“One was really bad,” said Church. 

The sludge truck, which had once served as a military transport vehicle, was rated to carry only 4,000 pounds, but Church noted it had far exceeded that limit while carrying sludge. 

“It has earned its keep considering what we paid for it several years ago,” said Church. 

With the old truck in disrepair, Church set out to find a replacement and said he immediately thought of inquiring about repurposed utility trucks at Blue Ridge Electric in Lenoir. 

BRE told Church that two used trucks were available for purchase. 

One that particularly caught Church's interest was a 2002 International boom truck that has 76,000 miles, equipped with four-wheel drive with the frame and cab considered to be in excellent condition. 

The truck also has new tires, which is something the town's current sludge truck does not have. It will cost $900 a piece to replace each of the six tires. 

Church said the utility truck is also equipped with heavy-duty springs, meaning it can carry sizeable loads. 

After reviewing the truck's dimensions and capacity, Church deemed it to serve the town's need as a repurposed sludge truck. 

BRE initially priced the truck at $22,000, but then later came down on the price by a thousand dollars. 

The three aldermen in attendance — two were absent — and Mayor Dana Tugman were noticeably interested in the truck.

Church also stressed the significance of purchasing a truck in good condition.

“This is the most critical of the vehicles we have other than the backhoe,” said Church. “I was really fearful of putting that military vehicle back on the road.”

“The only alternative we have is carrying a third of the load at a time,” said Aldermen Mark Johnston. “Plus with the cost of tires, this just makes more sense.”

While no money is currently budgeted for a new truck, aldermen voted to make a necessary budget amendment to go through with the purchase of a new truck. 

In line with equipment needs for the town, Aldermen Luther Anderson expressed his concern of a damaged motor grader in need of transmission work. 

“As quick as it gets hot, that's it,” said Anderson. “The motor is good, but we can't use it to push snow. It wouldn't last two blocks.”

At this point, mechanics have no way of knowing how much it would cost to repair the transmission without taking the grader apart.

“It could be anywhere from four to eight thousand dollars to fix,” said Anderson. 

Considering that a new motor grader would cost more than $100,000, Tugman said it made more sense to pay the necessary repairs.

After some brief discussion, the board moved to fund the repairs. 

In other business, the board approved a revised sewer use ordinance that will be adhered by the town. 

Church said changes to the ordinance were mostly “cosmetic” and will not change how regulations are enforced.

The revisions will, however, prevent large industrial users from conducting their own analysis for pre-treatment purposes. 

This must now be done by a contracted commercial agency, said Church, due to a conflict of interest. 

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.