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John Munson, commissioners differ over language in policy

March 10, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson told fellow board members Tuesday they were "making a joke" out of a safety issue after they poked fun at one of his policy recommendations.

The County Commissioners were discussing a proposed policy outlining the regulations for employees who use county vehicles when they came to a paragraph that was suggested by Munson. The paragraph stated, "When exiting a County vehicle, all employees serving as drivers must ensure that the vehicle is properly placed in a PARK position, with the emergency brake engaged."

Munson said a line should have been added to the paragraph stating that engines should be turned off when the driver gets out of county vehicle, to prevent "runaway vehicles."

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"I don't care if you step out one foot from it, the engine should be off," Munson said.

Munson, a former postmaster, said that requirement is similar to one enforced by the U.S. Postal Service.

The majority of the commissioners didn't think the paragraph was necessary.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners would be "legislating common sense" by adding that paragraph to the policy. He said it would be like telling employees to keep their eyes on the road.

Director of Public Works Gary Rohrer asked what would happen in the winter if an employee had to warm up the vehicle and, at the same time, needed to scrap off the windshield.

Snook asked whether the county would have to hire an additional employee to regulate whether parked county vehicles have their emergency brakes on.

Munson said adding the paragraph would ensure safety and save the county in insurance costs if a vehicle were ever to jump into gear and roll away.

"Tell me in the last 10 years how many runaway vehicles that we've had," Snook said to Munson.

"Probably none, but that's a possibility," Munson said.

He said most companies were mandating similar policies.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps asked what companies those were, and Munson said he couldn't name them all. Nipps said she would need that information to consider the paragraph.

The commissioners ended up approving the policy, but pulled Munson's paragraph from it. Snook said the commissioners would review it in six months to determine whether changes should be made.

"If we need to put in there that (employees) have to drive with their eyes open, we'll do it," Snook said.

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