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Pick-Your Own Farmers Fired Up Over DOT Roadside Sign Removal

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NASH COUNTY, N.C. — Farmers who have roadside stands say they count on signs to lure customers. The state Department of Transportation plans to take down many of the signs. Farmers fear removing signs that will put the brakes on their business.

Mitchell Wrenn's strawberries will soon be ready for picking. His roadside signs are still stacked up in a pile at his Nash County farm.

"Right now, I'm very concerned and probably won't start putting them up until something is settled about it," he said.Wrenn is worried about the state stepping up enforcement of a state law prohibiting the signs on road right-of-ways.

"The signs are the way people find us. That's what they're looking for. We're on a little side road, so there is very little traffic that comes by here without the signs," he said.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is now placing special emphasis on removing the signs.

"We're not going to make special trips everyday to pick up signs, but we are going to pick up signs in areas where we are working," said Jon Nance of the Department of Transportation.

Wrenn said the sign removal could be catastrophic for him and other pick-your-own farmers.

"Losing the signs can be just as devastating as a hail storm or something else that wipes it out," he said.

Transportation officials said they will not make any exceptions for farmers.

"What I would suggest is spend a little more time in placing your sign and place them behind the right-of-way behind the poles. Then we don't have a problem it (will be) hit," Nance said.

On highways, like the ones where Wrenn draws most of his customers, the right-of-way can be 200 feet from the center of the road. Wrenn worries the signs would be too far away to be seen.

"Without the signs and without getting the people in a hurry, we are going to start losing out," he said.

Studies show roadside signs can generate half of the business a


farmer gets.