The tall grass along county rights-of-way will soon be getting a trim.
Jackson County now has all eight of the shiny, new John Deere mowers that make up the fleet of its newly formed mowing sub-department.
As of Monday, five of the eight drivers needed to run them have been hired and processed, according to Jackson County Administrator Wilanne Daniels, and others are getting there.
She said Public Transportation Director Scotty Taylor has a detailed cutting schedule prepared and is very close to putting it into action. Four of the eight mowing tractors will start on the east end of the county, four will start on the west, and they’ll all work toward the middle.
Daniels said he arranged it thusly, rather than by district, because in this way they can “mow in packs” to best assure they’re achieving total coverage as they move across the big county with almost 920 miles by land.
This approach also keeps them arranged in a way that lines them up for the most efficient use of the county mechanic in responding to whatever issues might arise in the field, like a flat tire other problems. He’ll have shorter distances to travel if more than one crew should need him on a given day, for instance, saving fuel and time in his deployment than if the eight were strung out far and wide across the five county districts.
Daniels said Taylor has mapped the entire district in a careful and very specific design as to how and in what order the areas are to be mowed.
She asks for the public’s patience: The new department has what will sometimes be a daunting task to achieve. More than 17 months after Hurricane Michael, she said, there’s still a lot of debris hiding in that grass. Things like limbs, and wires and cables that can play havoc with mower blades. Some of those things could tear up a mower if they’re not seen and removed, so the going will be slow on the first round of cuts.
“They’ll be trying not to tear up our brand new tractors,” Daniels said. “It probably will be slow going as we navigate through. We’re doing all in our power to make it go as smoothly and systematically as possible. It’s going to take some time and I think that if we give them a chance to work through that first round — because it’s critical that they’re careful — we’ll be pleased with the results and we’ll see the next rounds going a little faster.”
She expects the mowers to be in action very soon but declined to state an absolute day of start.