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Commissioners approve purchase of natural gas powered truck

By Robin Y. Richardson
Oct. 30, 2012 at 10 p.m.

Harrison County will become one of the first in northeast Texas to buy a compressed natural gas powered vehicle to be used for its road and bridge fleet.

The decision was made on Tuesday as the county commissioners court approved the purchase of one compressed natural gas powered 13-yard Peterbuilt dump truck.

"This will be our first purchase of a compressed natural gas vehicle," said Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor. "We reduced our request from three to one dump truck to try to get our feet wet, to kind of get involved as one of the first local governments to do so to get accustomed to the use of this fuel in this type of vehicle."

"I'm very excited about Harrison County being one of the first in northeast Texas to pursue this option for our fleet, and we're taking small steps now because we want to learn how to use the vehicle, how to facilitate the fueling, how we will work on the vehicle, how the guys run the vehicle, (and find out) what cost savings are we're realizing with the vehicle."

Taylor said the dump truck, which will cost $154,847.82, is larger than what they are used to.

He added that they are especially excited because the facility that they will use to fuel the vehicle will be a local facility.

"We're providing a vehicle that's using local fuel; we're providing a vehicle that will use less fuel, have more power, it's cheaper to run and also, at a bigger capacity, we can operate it with one man as opposed to two required personnel (it takes) to do the same job," he said of the perks.

He said it will allow the extra personnel to work on something else instead of having to operate the smaller dump truck.

"I personally believe (it'll) be beneficial to the county, road and bridge department and to the taxpayers, especially," said Taylor.

The judge advised that they will not purchase the vehicle, however, until the fueling facility is fully operational.

He said the facility won't be available until about the end of the year.

He said he and County Engineer John Paul Jones will visit the facility before purchasing the vehicle to see how it runs.

"It's very close to our main base operation for road and bridge," said Taylor, noting he would probably have to acquire a credit card to use the facility.

Taylor, who has worked on converting to this type of vehicle since February 2011, said he is thrilled to see it possibly come to fruition for the county.

"I know all the commissioners, when I discussed this option, they've been supportive and have encouraged the road and bridge engineer and myself to pursue this option," he said. "I think it's conservative to start small and see how things go. I can't wait for the grand opening and see how we ride with the new truck.

He said if it is effective, they can possibly purchase another natural compressed gas vehicle next year.

In other business, the court approved an excavator for the road and bridge department. The court also approved the purchase of six Chevrolet Caprice patrol vehicles and two Chevrolet Impalas to be used by the investigative division in the sheriff's office.

The total purchase of the squad cars, including equipment, is $229,600.

Taylor noted that all of the vehicle purchases approved on Tuesday would have normally been included for approval during the budget process; however, they were mistakenly overlooked.



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