Commissioner speaks out on ordinance

Published 11:00 pm Friday, November 23, 2012

Recently the subject of a proposed logging ordinance was placed on the Pike County Commission meeting agneda. We had several people that work in the timber industry at our scheduled meeting for Oct. 22 and I came away from that meeting with the feeling that there was a lot of misunderstanding about this issue. I certainly don’t claim to know everything or have all the answers to this or any issue. But, I felt that I should try to explain how I stand on this issue and how I came to my position.

During all the more than 20 years that I have been a commissioner, I have always been very mindful of my responsibility to my district and this county for the safety of our citizens. There are many ways that the decisions that are made by the commission impact public safety, not the least of which is the condition for our county roads, paved and unpaved. My first thought when considering any issue regarding our roads is the safety of those that travel those roads every day. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself, “What would I tell a family if there had been an accident on a county road that could have been prevented?” You really don’t know what it’s like to face decisions like that unless you have actually had to be the one casting a vote.

I am a farmer and I use tractors, trucks and other equipment to make my living. I depend on these same roads all of you do. Yes, my family and I are out there on those raods every day too. If I can’t get my chickens to market, I don’t make any money. I lose money, and it is just that simple. And like so many others, I have a family that suffers if that happens too. I know from my own personal experience how frustrating it is to have to deal with regulations. I don’t believe there is any industry that has more regulations than the agricultural industry – unnecessary and useless regulations are not good for anyone.

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With all this in mind, I would like to make some very simple points that I think some may have overlooked. Frist, the main and most important reason to consider an ordinance like this is to insure the safety of the people. If it doesn’t make that better then we don’t need it, but if it could save even one life, we have to ocnsider it. Next, I think many have missed the fact that it was the Alabama Forestry Association that was behind the legislation that was passed. No, this didn’t come to the county commission as an opportunity to raise taxes or increase fees. It has always been approached as a way to help better maintain the roads and to keep them safe, which I believe is a goal we all have in common. And, don’t forget, as I said the legislation came from group that represents the timber industry. Also, this county and this state are not the first to consider these sorts of regulations. In fact, one of the timber industry reprsentatives that spoke at our meeting on the 22nd mentioned the ordinances that they have in Georgia anf how we might consider passing something along those lines. I looked into some information regarding Georgia’s regulations. Based on waht I found on the Georgia Forestry Association’s website, the ordinance we are considering is much less harsh and costly than the ones I saw there. Many of them include bonds, fees and permit costs that are not in this ordinance. Finally, I have never been in support of any action to be taken by this commission or any other governmental body that would needlessly add more burdens on the public or any business or entity. I am here to serve the people and I answer to you for all my decisions. It wouldn’t make good sense to hinder commerce for no good reason.

Now, put yourself in my shoes for a minute. Remember what I said earlier about how you would feel if you had to answer for the safety of your family, friends, neighbors and all others that travel on our public roads? Considering all the facts, how would you answer this question?

No decision has been made yet. But you can be assured if I am part of the decision, I will always make safety my priority.

Ray Goodson,

Pike County Commissioner