(OOLITIC) - The Indiana Limestone Millwokers' Union presented a petition with 118 signatures to Oolitic town council members Monday night. The union and residents on Hoosier Avenue want Indiana Limestone trucks to stop using the gate onto Hoosier Avenue.
Jerry Banks, a negotiator for Millworkers Local 8093, said the trucks are destroying the road and homeowners are complaining about the noise and dust caused by the trucks.
"They are using the gate to avoid the picket lines," Banks said. "There are 15 or more trucks going out each day, all day long down that road."
He also asked the council about an existing ordinance limiting weight restrictions on Oolitic Roads.
Council President Delvin Nikirk said there were no ordinances for the roads of Oolitic and there never will be any ordinances in the future.
"You guys have a problem with your company and I understand that," Nikirk said." But you can't dump this problem onto the town council. You better think about this long and hard; we have nothing to do with this."
Town attorney Greg Pittman said there was a 1954 ordinance which restricted trucks weighing more than 16,000 pounds on Oolitic roads, but Hoosier Avenue was exempt, because in 1954 Hoosier Avenue was maintained by the state and not the town of Oolitic. However, that has changed and the town of Oolitic now maintains Hoosier Avenue.
Johnny Speer, a past town council member, said when he was on the council there were complaints from residents and business owners about Indiana Limestone trucks using Hoosier Avenue. He said the board drafted an ordinance, but before passing it, they went to the owners of Indiana Limestone and reached a verbal agreement and the company stopped using the gate on Hoosier Avenue. The drafted ordinance was never voted on. Speer said the company has not used the gate since 2004, when the agreement was reached.
Indiana Limestone began using the gate again when workers went on strike Nov. 16, so drivers could avoid the picket lines.
Phil Dixon, who lives at 12 Hoosier Avenue, said he signed the petition.
"I don't want those trucks there," he told the council. "I don't want them going up and down the road in front of my house."
Discussion on the issue got heated at times. Another problem was there is no way the town could enforce weight restrictions. Town Marshal Jon Jefferies told the council the state would have to do it, because the town doesn't have the equipment.
Newly elected Clerk-Treasurer Jim Staley asked the group if they would be complaining about the trucks if they were not on strike. Many said they would, because they pay taxes in Oolitic and the town will have to pay for the damage to the roads. They added that if they were not on strike, the company may not be using the gate because there would be no picket line for trucks to avoid.
"There is an issue regardless," said Rick Whitehead. "Taxpayers are going to have to pay for the damage. The company used an alternative route for years, until this strike. This problem is bigger then us. It's about this town, and the citizens of this town are asking for help. We are the ones who spend our money at Casey's and the Dollar Store, not those corporate leaders from Cleveland."
Staley told the council that the new owners may not know about the past verbal agreement, not to use the Hoosier Avenue gate. He and Nikirk plan to visit Indiana Limestone Tuesday morning and see if an agreement can be reached.
Nikirk said he will call Banks after that meeting and let him know what the results were. Banks will then pass the information on to others who attended the meeting.
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