May 5—HEFLIN — During a work session Tuesday afternoon the Cleburne County Commission discussed the practice of spraying herbicides along the county rights of ways to control weeds.
Not everyone believes that's the best route to take, however, for according to commission chair Ryan Roberts, residents opposed to the practice will attend the next regular meeting on May 18 to voice their concerns.
Cleburne County engineer Lee Estes said two representatives from the contractor, IVM Solutions, will be at the meeting to answer any questions the commission may have about the use of herbicides to control vegetation along the county's rights of way.
According to Estes, the county uses the contractor due to a shortage of manpower to mow all the rights of ways in the county and the overall cost involved.
Estes said the herbicides used are "arsenal and a small dose of Roundup."
The commission voted to approve the use of herbicides at a meeting last year but Commissioner Laura Cobb voted against the measure.
"I'm just concerned for my residents and all, I'm just not a fan of it, haven't been, never have, not going to change my view on it," said Cobb after the work session.
Commissioner Emmett Owen said the herbicides control the Johnson grass and broadleaf vegetation along the county roadways.
"In a couple years it will take very little maintenance on those areas once we get it all under control," said Owen.
Owen said that only one resident in his district called him over the spraying and it was because the entire road was not sprayed.
Owen was quick to point out that farmers in the county spray a lot more herbicide than the county does.
"What the county sprays is not one tenth of what is sprayed by farmers across the county," said Owen.
Commissioner Terry Hendrix said residents of his district are in favor of the spraying by a five to one margin.
Cleburne County resident Mark Truett is organizing a "peaceful assembly" at the May 18 commission meeting to protest the use of herbicides along the county's rights of way.
When reached by phone Tuesday night Truett said that he is concerned about the widespread use of the herbicides and how it will affect the residents health and the environment.
"I'm not concerned about what people do on private property, I just don't believe the county should be spraying this stuff," said Truett.
"In light of the work that's been taking place in the Fruithurst area to determine the high rate of cancer, it is shameful to think that we would spray chemicals that cause cancer," he said.
In other business, Owen told the commission about the precarious state of plumbing at the county jail. According to Owen, the way the pipes were installed if there is just one broken toilet the water has to be turned off to the entire jail. Owen showed the commissioners a photo he took of a decaying water pipe in the jail. The commission discussed replacing the pipes in the jail to avoid having to turn the water off to the entire facility if there is a plumbing issue.
In other matters, Fred Couch with the Alabama Scenic River Trail spoke to the commission about seeking the permission of private landowners to allow camping on their property as they navigate the Tallapoosa River in Cleburne County.
The Alabama Scenic River Trail is approximately 650 miles long, beginning at Weiss Lake on the Coosa River and ending at Mobile Bay.
The commission's next meeting will be May 18 at 5 p.m. at the Cleburne County Mountain Center.
Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.