published Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Sheriff’s fuel-conservation plan saving money

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A fuel conservation plan for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office saved nearly $6,000 in January compared with the previous December, the sheriff said Wednesday.

A directive from Sheriff Jim Ruth calls for every patrol car to park for 15 minutes every hour, except for emergencies.

“During that time the officers observe traffic, watch neighborhoods or check on businesses,” Ruth said during a County Commission Law Enforcement Committee meeting.

The January fuel cost was a little more than $26,000 compared with more than $32,000 in December 2010, he said.

Committee members applauded Ruth’s effort to save fuel and money.

The next question, commissioners said, is how much gasoline prices will rise during the next few months.

“The next four months of the fiscal year are not going to look like the first eight months,” Commissioner Ed Elkins said.

In other business, the committee approved a recommendation to purchase seven bulletproof vests to replace current vests that are out of warranty. Vest materials deteriorate over time and are not covered by warranties, commissioners were told.

The purchase takes advantage of a federal grant that pays half the $3,395 cost of the new vests.

The committee also approved a policy recommendation to the full commission on awarding service weapons to retiring officers.

Under the recommendation, the service weapons would be awarded for 20 or more years of honorable service, less than 20 years for those physically disabled in the line of duty or for those for whom an exception is considered appropriate by the sheriff. The weapons also would be given to families of officers killed in the line of duty and a sheriff leaving office honorably after at least one full term.

Committee Chairman Brian Smith noted that federal funds for meth lab cleanups were stopped suddenly. He and the committee agreed to recommend that Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford send a letter to local congressional leaders, asking that the grant be reconsidered rather than putting the cost on local government.

Ruth said cleanup from even a small meth lab — which uses toxic chemicals — could cost $3,000 or more and the county averages about two meth-lab raids a month.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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