TRENTON, N.J. -The Mercer County Office of Weights and Measures is gearing up for another busy spring season beginning with this week's statewide declaration honoring March 1 through 7th as New Jersey Weights and Measures Week.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine proclaimed this week a time to recognize the important work Weights and Measures offices perform on behalf of the residents of New Jersey. It coincides with the 97th anniversary of the signing of the first weights and measures law in the year 1911.
Mercer County, like the rest of the 20 counties in the State, operates a Weights and Measures office that is responsible for consumer protection by making sure everything from gasoline pumps to supermarket scales are calibrated property and charge customers accurately.
"Our Weights and Measures professionals in Mercer County are often unheralded, but are working for County residents all throughout the year," said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. "They are dispatched to a variety of stores, gas stations, and distribution centers throughout the County to conduct thousands of tests a year. The end result is Mercer County residents are getting exactly what they deserve-the most value for their dollar."
The office inspects a wide variety of measuring devices and products and can order businesses to correct or repair anything found to be inaccurate. Fines can also be issued if problems are not rectified.
Examples of common inspections that may not be known to the public are on products such as home heating oil and cords of firewood; lengths of carpet, rope, and fabric; measuring devices like scales at pharmacies, jewelry stores, delis, and grocery stores; gas pumps; timed devices like Laundromat dryers and vacuum and air stations at gas stations and car washes; and signage, prices, octane levels, and water levels at gas stations.
The County Weights and Measures Office has some of the most sophisticated equipment in the State to conduct tests. Its' new computerized system, called WINWAM (Windows for Weights and Measures), is the most efficient and accurate method of calculating and recording measurements.
Through the use of three laptops, the WINWAM system keeps a record of all measurements, making it easy to identify problem devices or search a business' inspection history. In addition, the system has a log of all devices required to be registered by the State of New Jersey and can alert the Weights and Measures office when an inspection is due. WINWAM also makes complicated calculations instantly and eliminates human error.
The office also uses a specialized truck fitted with octane analyzers when testing meters as gas stations for airtight seals, updated inspection stickers, and accurate pricing. The truck conducts octane analysis on gas pumps, a test that is not required by the State of New Jersey but that ensures Mercer County gas stations are providing what they claim. No other Weights and Measures Office in the County has the ability to conduct such tests.
In addition, the office has a 200-gallon prover that it employs to test how accurate home heating oil delivery trucks are when pumping oil into homes.
"The equipment we have really enables us to be a watchdog by doing much more testing in more places," said John Worth, Superintendent of the County Weights and Measures Office. "Our inspections make Mercer County one of the most transparent markets for consumers, and we see the businesses as partners with our office. We work hand-in-hand all year long."
Hughes said he will again order the Weights and Measures Office to randomly test gas stations in the County this spring.