An insurance salesman recently jailed for two days in a dispute over a county health ordinance mandating the proper way to stack wood says he'd return to the slammer before complying with the "stupid" law.
"I think the law in itself is stupid and it's not fairly administered because it's not applied equally to everybody," Harold Jones said Friday.The dispute began several months ago when a Salt Lake County neighbor complained Jones, 48, was in violation of a law requiring woodpiles be at least 18 inches off the ground.
County health inspectors, charged with enforcing the rodent-control regulation, determined Jones was out of compliance and told him to restack the wood in the legal manner.
Jones freely admits he ignored repeated Health Department directives until the matter was finally turned over to Justice of the Peace Joanne Rigby.
"I'm a rebel from way back," Jones said. "I said in the hearing I thought the law was being unfairly administered. I have yet to see a woodpile 18 inches off the ground."
Rigby sentenced him to two days in jail and fined him $75 but suspended the jail time and all but $25 of the fine.
Jones still refused to pay.
On May 24, "a deputy showed up on my doorstop and asked was I going to pay the fine. I said, `No,' " Jones said. The officer arrested Jones and took him to jail in handcuffs.
Jones, who said he had never been in trouble with the law, served two days in the Salt Lake County Jail, putting up with "delousing and cockroaches." But Jones said he'd go through the ordeal again, as a matter of principle.
"I have a feeling they're going to come after me again because I haven't paid the fine and I don't intend to," Jones said. "And I still have the woodpile."
Corbin Anderson, environmental health technician with the City-County Health Department, said the case was the first he was aware of in which a violation of the 1981 wood stacking ordinance actually led to arrest and jail.
"They usually don't go that far," Anderson said.