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Norwood truck case appeal dismissed

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NORWOOD — A truck driver charged and found not guilty of violating village road weight limits will remain triumphant after a judge’s ruling that the verdict was not eligible for appeal in St. Lawrence County Court.

G. Michael Knowlton, charged with violating the village’s 8-ton road weight limit in January, was found not guilty in June in Canton Town Court. The decision was appealed by the St. Lawrence County prosecutor.

St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards said in his Oct. 10 written ruling that the law forced him to dismiss the case, even though he didn’t agree with the town court verdict.

Mr. Knowlton, who owns Knowlton & Son Trucking, 1252 River Road, said he was happy about the victories in court.

“All we want to do is work,” he said.

Mr. Knowlton’s company ships heavy loads of salt throughout the county. In September 2012, the village board voted to start enforcing its longstanding road weight limit. Ever since, Mr. Knowlton and those he works with have been in a constant struggle with the village.

Avoiding village roads would mean a lengthy, costly detour for Mr. Knowlton and his drivers, he said, especially when they want to haul salt north.

“If you’re going to Massena, that’s a long way round,” he said.

Mr. Knowlton’s case was supposed to be heard in Potsdam Town Court, but Justices James A. Mason and Samuel R. Charleson recused themselves because they served on the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department at the same time as Mr. Knowlton, a former deputy.

The case was moved to Canton Town Court, where Mr. Knowlton scored his first victory.

Canton Town Justice Cathleen E. O’Horo ruled that while Norwood had the right to enforce its weight limits, it was “unreasonable” to force a business owner within village limits to take a major detour to stay within the law. She found Mr. Knowlton not guilty.

Judge Richards said in his decision that he did not see things the same way.

“It is the court’s impression that the record on appeal does not support the trial court’s conclusion that the village ordinance or law is unfair,” Mr. Richards wrote in his ruling.

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