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Glenn celebrates annual agriculture event
Scales and pumps measure a variety of products purchased by consumers, and counties are charged with making sure they function properly and provide accurate measurements.
Glenn County observed National Weights and Measures Week this week with a proclamation by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday and an exhibit at the Agriculture Department.
The annual celebration ran March 1-7 and included a display of measuring devices at the Glenn County Agriculture Department.
This event is conducted primarily to educate the public about what the ag department does related to monitoring weights and measures, environmental biologist Greg Hinton said.
His area of interest is checking large scales for vehicles, livestock, even railroad scales that weigh items 2,000 pounds or greater, Hinton said.
He also monitors platform scales that weigh things from 2,000 to 10,000 pounds, he said.
There are about 65 large, mostly vehicle scales, in Glenn County and 40 or so platform scales, Hinton added, along with 30 livestock scales.
In addition, the county must check 175 small devices annually and monitor the fuel dispensers at 25 gas stations countywide, officials said.
Small grocery store scales, feed store scales and related devices allow consumers and sellers to know the weight of meats, produce and animal feed products like rabbit pellets, chicken scratch and so on.
Budgets for the weights and measures are a challenge these days with the State Department of Weights and Measures not really that well funded these days, Hinton said.
In fact, price verification checks have been cut because of reduced budgeting, he said, where state or local officials would go into stores and scan items off the shelves to see if the prices are correct. It is now done on a complaint basis.
Most scales are run electronically today unlike manual devices used in the past, he said.
The advantage is the electric scales are much faster to weigh on because you just pull on and then pull off, but they do break periodically and that leads to maintenance problems, according to Hinton.
Some old systems were well designed and a few 90-year-old cattle scales remain in use now, he said, and he tests them today — but it takes work to put them back together if something breaks.
Besides testing scales, Glenn County also issues and reviews weigh master certificates.
Its petroleum program targets gas pumps for fuel dispenser compliance and checks propane dealers for compliance as well.
Every five years the county has its measuring devices tested to make sure they are doing the job, he said, and meet measurement standards.
Scales that have been tested have a sticker indicating they were tested and found accurate at the time of the inspection.
The devices are usually built so they do not fluctuate very much and are self-regulating to a point, Hinton said.
Inspections run year round to make sure businesses are in compliance with the standards that are set, he said.
"We rarely issue fines," Hinton said. "Our growers and businesses are very understanding and good."
His office also provides education on weights and measures when appropriate, Hinton said.
A variety of tests also are made during inspections such as a shift test to check the corners of the scale.
An increasing load test is another, followed by a decreasing load test, and a zero test to make sure the scale reverts back to zero when nothing is on it, he said.
Normally, the agriculture department checks for 25 percent of a scale's capacity when testing, but Hinton likes to go as high as he can, he said, to get a more accurate reading.
Non commercial scales can be inspected by the county by owner request.
For more information, call 934-6501 to learn about inspections or make a complaint.