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More reward $$ offered for timber site vandalism of Stuart Timber

Special to the Prentiss Headlight

The Jefferson Davis County Forestry Association is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the destruction of harvesting machinery on Sunday October 27, 2013, in Lawrence County near the Georgia Pacific Papermill. This reward will supplement the $10,000 reward offered by the owner of the machinery, Stuart Timber, Inc. of Carson.

In updating the members of the association at a Board of Directors meeting this week, Monty Sanders, a Contract Supervisor with Charles Donald Wood, Inc., reported what is known. Monty stated “whoever did this did so with pre-planned and malicious intent. What machinery they could not burn they damaged by cutting electric wires, slashing hoses and shattering windows. The perpetrators were on site for an extended period of time without fear. The criminals used a bull dozier to push burnable debris around the machinery to ensure that the equipment would completely burn. Those involved pushed a trench across the access road prior to leaving in order to hamper fire suppression efforts.”

James Fagan, the Vice President of the Association and a Consulting Forester, is a personal friend with Anthony Stuart and his wife Holli. James stated “Stuart Timber does high-quality thinning of timber in South Mississippi. The Jefferson Davis County Forestry Association selected the Stuart’s as our ‘Logger of the Year’ two years ago. Anthony and Holli have had to deny the needs of their family in countless occasions over the years in order to keep their business solvent.”

It has been a constant struggle for Mississippi’s professional Loggers during the recent downturn that has seen the total economic output of Mississippi’s timber industry fall from over seventeen billion dollars annually to ten billion dollars. The Stuart’s equipment was insured but the high deductible and other out of pocket expenses are overwhelming. The vandalism destroyed twenty years of hard work. This incident has hurt Anthony and Holli emotionally and financially. They have no knowledge of anyone that they have offended that would cause this level of malice toward them.

“This could not have happened at a more inopportune time for the Stuarts,” states Jack Rauenhorst, President of the Jefferson Davis County Forestry Association. “While many Mississippians will give thanks for our many blessings and prepare for the coming holidays, this incident reminds us that there are those that harbor malicious intent to good, hardworking folks. This is a crime against every private landowner and to all machinery owners that regularly leave the equipment they rely on for their livelihoods unattended while not in use. I only wish that we could provide a greater incentive to bring the perpetrators to justice. If all law abiding and hardworking Mississippians fully understood what took place that Sunday morning they would feel the same outrage as those of us that know the Stuarts. We assume that there is an active investigation and are resolved to work on every level of state government and with allied associations to ensure that the necessary resources are provided to the law enforcement agencies involved in solving this crime. The Jefferson Davis County Forestry Association encourages everyone concerned to do the same.”

For more information about the crime and the reward please call the Jefferson Davis County Extension Office, 601-792-5121.

Anyone with information that would help solve this crime is encouraged to contact the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, 601-587-2961.