MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 10, 2013

Truck foe left spinning his wheels

— A couple whose yard was damaged by the driver of a tractor-trailer rig trying to negotiate a tight turn in a northeastern Muskogee neighborhood want answers.

More than that, they want help keeping the large rigs off their neighborhood streets. But several months after they began their quest — and more than a week after they found a tractor-trailer rig stuck in their front yard — James and Deborah East have found neither.

The Easts said a driver got his rig stuck in the yard on the afternoon of Feb. 26. A wrecker operator who pulled the rig out called police, but the driver never was cited although the street is posted with signs declaring that truck traffic is prohibited.

James East, who lodged a citizen’s complaint last autumn and a second one recently, said he has encountered roadblocks in every direction. He finally caught the attention of the company that coordinates truck traffic at a nearby warehouse last week, but the ruts in his yard that run as deep as his frustrations remain.

“The city put this sign up last fall — the street is posted but the cops won’t write a ticket,” East said Wednesday as he staked out a place to protest the truck traffic through his neighborhood. “Nobody seems to give a damn. But if I don’t keep my yard mowed and looking nice, the city is going to fine me for violating their codes.”

Rodney Brook, who works part-time as an assistant city attorney, said East filed a complaint last year. The complaint, however, cited the owner of the warehouse as the offending party. Brook said that although Whitlock Packaging’s products are stored at the warehouse that draws the truck traffic, the company did nothing wrong, so no action was taken.

Brook said he has yet to see East’s second report, which identifies a driver for a Minnesota trucking firm as the offending party. But he did contact the truck driver, who reportedly told Brooks that his global positioning system guided him through East’s neighborhood.

Tony Aleman of CDS, a third-party logistics company, disputed that assertion this week as he tried to find ways to resolve East’s complaints.

“They’ve got clear direction of how to get there,” Aleman said about truck drivers who haul loads to and from the warehouse at North and Chestnut streets. “None of those routes come through here.”

Brook said the area of East’s yard where the damage occurred is within the easement that makes up the right of way along the street. However, he said police told him they have stepped up patrols through the neighborhood and issue citations as warranted.

East said he had no desire to “haul anybody into court” or see truck drivers get ticketed. His primary concern — other than keeping tractor-trailer rigs out of his yard and neighborhood — is to get “somebody who cares out to listen.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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