Fine withdrawn over 16th section tree cuttings

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2000

A fine for cutting trees on sixteenth section land withoutpermission was withdrawn Monday during the Lincoln County SchoolBoard meeting.

After a lengthy discussion, school board members opted to dropthe $225 fine against a county man who mowed over several pinetrees on the sixteenth section land he leases.

County Forester Howard Stogner had suggested the lease holder befined several months ago because it is illegal to cut trees onsixteenth section land without permission from the schooldistrict.

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The school board decided it was a fair amount and pursued afine, only to discover later the trees were saplings, not largepine trees, that grew naturally on the land.

“After looking into the matter, we found that we didn’t plantthe trees,” said Superintendent of Education Perry Miller.

The lease holder had cut the trees down with a bush hog whilepreparing a site for a garden.

Some board members agreed to allow the mistake to slide, only onthis occasion, because the trees were only a few feet tall. Oneboard member disagreed with the withdrawal of the fine.

“There’s got to be a penalty,” said Board Member Randall Lofton.”They’re ought to be some guidelines there.”

Lofton argued that just because the trees were onfarm/residential land, that still did not give the lease holder theright to cut them.

The other board members agreed that trees should not be cut fromany type sixteenth section land in the future unless the board isnotified first, but they understood the mistake.

“Now if the trees had been pulpwood size, yea, we should finehim.. but he needs a garden spot,” said Board Member JerryCoon.

Other sixteenth section land matters included the adoption of anew policy concerning bid procedures.

Board members will allow present hunting lease holders to have aslight edge during the bid process on sixteenth section land ifthey are out bid initially.

“If the present lease holder is not the highest bid, but he hasa legitimate bid, he has the right to match the highest bid,” saidMiller.

Board members added that a legitimate bid is considered one ofat least $5.50 per acre.

Another decision made during last night’s board meetingconcerning sixteenth section land was to allow the school districtto pay for appraisals on three sections as part of a peacekeepingeffort.

School board members decided to put an end to a several-monthdilemma about allowing three lease holders to keep theirresidential lease.

Delois Jones and Crystal Franklin met with the board in Aprilbecause they were upset that the board wanted to plant trees on thesixteenth section land they were leasing.

They explained to the board that the land, although they do notown it, had been in their families for several decades and theywanted to keep it in the family on residential and agriculturalleases.

Board members had been under the impression that the land wasnot being fully utilized. They wanted to use the section to growmore pine trees, which could benefit the school district.

After a second meeting in April, board members opted to allowthe leases to be used for agriculture with five acres each forresidential. Gladys Allen and Ernest Smith also have requested fiveacres for residential.

The property surveys have already been paid, so the boarddecided to bring a close to the matter and pay for the $300appraisals on the five-acre residential leases.

Other matters discussed during the meeting included boardmembers’ request to give principals in the school district theright to approve or disapprove fund-raisers for their schools.

In the past, the school board has had to approve everyfund-raiser, but board members believe principals should make thedecisions because they have more insight. The only exceptions tothe new policy will be fund-raisers that may be consideredquestionable.

“If they’re not routine, then they (the principals) can bring itto us,” said Lofton.

The next scheduled board meeting is set for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 2,in the central office on Monticello Street.