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March 20, 2010

Weights, measures officials protect consumers

Week in March recognizes regulators

ANDERSON — Whether consumers are filling up their cars’ gas tanks, buying a gallon of milk or drying clothes at a laundromat, one man in Anderson makes sure they always get their money’s worth.

Russ Willis is director of the city’s Weights and Measures Department, a one-man operation responsible for ensuring all goods and services sold in weight, volume, count, size or time actually measure up to their advertised amounts. A little-known protector of consumers and businesses, Willis spends his days checking retail scales, gas pumps and all manner of measuring equipment.

“We protect the consumer and we protect the business,” Willis said of himself and other weights and measures inspectors around the state. “They lose money if equipment is over- or under-weighing.”

The first week of March was national Weights and Measures Week, a time designed to recognize those inspectors who make sure consumers get what they pay for. Indiana has 86 weights and measures officials throughout the state, according to a statement by Larry J. Stump, director of Indiana’s Division of Weights and Measures.

“Nearly everything we buy is sold by weight, volume, length, count or measure,” said a press release from Willis. “Think of examples — a dozen eggs, a gallon of milk, a liter of wine, a yard of cloth, a pound of hamburger, a cord of wood. Your weights and measures inspectors are at work behind the scenes protecting consumers and businesses from unfair practices.”

In the winter months, Willis goes around to retail outlets and pharmacies in the city to make sure their scales are correct according to his state-certified equipment; he also checks time-measured equipment, such as tanning beds, car washes and clothes washers and dryers. In the summer, Willis spends his days checking all the gas pumps in the city.

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