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1/31/2013 9:47:00 AM
County spends $120,000 on traffic-safety program
Michelle Lovato
Staff Writer

Chelan County roads will be safer as the Chelan County Sheriff's Office begins its traffic safety enhancement program next month, which is designed to protect and police drivers on county roads.

Chelan County Commissioners approved the $120,000 expenditure that will provide as much "County Road Fund money possible through the General Fund for the sole purpose of providing traffic policing and road-related services," according to the agreement signed Jan. 22 by Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett and the Chelan County Board of Commissioners.

Money will be taken from the Chelan County Public Works Department.

Sheriff Brian Burnett said most of the money will be used to employ a full-time officer to travel and protect the 600 miles of road in Chelan County.

"It's about safety and reducing liability on country roads," Burnett said. We want to be aggressive with things like DUIs."

Officers will also patrol school zones during certain hours, he said.

Having another full-time officer policing the roads will also enhance driver violation tickets, he said. If another deputy is needed in an emergency, the traffic safety officer will be able to help the department.

The Sheriff's Office will be paid through reimbursement and won't exceed the amount agreed upon in the County's budget.

In addition, the Sheriff's Office will use the money to investigate accidents, reduce unsafe road and right-of-way conditions, remove abandoned vehicles, littering and dumping, catching oversize load violations, sign damage investigation and enforcement, road condition enforcement, right-of-way encroachment investigation and maintenance, construction zone traffic control, county vehicle accident investigation and other clearly-related county road law enforcement needs.

The Chelan County Sheriff's Office has had part-time and shared employees in the past who helped with traffic safety.
A recent National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration report created for Chelan County Roads recommended a five-member traffic safety enhancement staff. But Burnett said one officer is a great start for now.

If the program is successful, Burnett said a second officer may be added in July.





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