County and city prepared if winter ever comes

| December 30, 2015
County salt lies in wait for the day it will be needed on roadways. Hopefully, that day is a long time from now so that crews can focus on other projects around the area.

County salt lies in wait for the day it will be needed on roadways. Hopefully, that day is a long time from now so that crews can focus on other projects around the area.

COSHOCTON – Mother Nature seems a little confused lately, but if she ever decides to bring us winter the county and the city are ready for it.

Coshocton County Engineer Frederick T. Wachtel said the county probably has 1,200 to 1,300 tons of salt in its possession right now.

“We haven’t used any salt so far this winter, but we haven’t saved any money on it,” he said. “We had to buy anticipating what we thought we would need for this winter.”

The county buys its salt through a contract with ODOT and puts orders in advance for a summer and winter fill.

“We have 1,000 tons from ODOT’s summer fill program in our bin now that cost $80,000,” Wachtel said. “I’m also on the hook for another at least 90 percent of 500 tons (from the winter fill order) sometime after the first of the year and before May that we will have to buy or pay for it and not buy it. We will figure out somewhere to put it thought if we aren’t using it. We will cram it up to the rafters if we have to. It will be fine if it stays there and doesn’t get used this winter. So this year we haven’t saved any money on salt, but we might in 2016.”

This warm winter has saved the county a little bit of money by not having to pay overtime for workers being out spreading salt at all hours of the day.

“We also haven’t had the cost of putting fuel in the trucks that do the work,” Wachtel said. “When we do those snow routes they only get four to five miles per gallon and suck up a lot of fuel. We also are saving on wear and tear. It’s a lot of hard work on the trucks plowing and hauling eight tons of salt.”

County employees, however, are keeping busy even without snow.

“We are out there doing normal maintenance things like ditching and cutting trees,” Wachtel said. “These things don’t create a problem with using roadways if we have to stop because of the weather. We also have bridge projects, are cold mix patching to hit holes on roads here and there and doing our annual inventory of all signs. There is plenty to keep us busy, but we are prepared if snow comes.”

In 2014, in the city of Coshocton, the street department used 1,100 tons of salt on city streets. This winter season, so far, they have used salt only one day, Friday, Dec. 18 when it snowed briefly that late afternoon.

The city is under contract to purchase 990 ton from ODNR at $72.39 per ton. Due to this contact, the city didn’t save any money this season due to the shortage of snow on the purchase of salt. However, they have been able to save money on labor costs.

“If this weather continues to be good to us, we can probably save money on labor,” said Jim Ruby, public works director.

Currently, the city has 200 ton of salt in storage. Due to the harsh winter in 2014-2015, ODOT underestimated the amount of salt that would be needed and the state ran out. Miners were sent back into the mines to mine more salt, but this year, that doesn’t look like a problem.

Although they’re not salting the streets, the street department crew has been keeping busy with pouring concrete, filling potholes, trimming trees, brush-cutting, and cleaning up sidewalk curbs and sewer drains. One big concern of Ruby’s is keeping catch basins from getting filled with debris such as trash, grass clippings, and leaves.

“Maybe the good weather we’ve got will help us get much-needed projects done,” said Ruby. “We want to clean stuff up. We need to get the debris off the streets, anything that can go down into the storm sewers. People don’t see the money we have literally thrown down the drain to clean those storm sewers, but I do.”

Hopefully, the snow will stay away this winter, allowing both the county and the city to complete much-needed projects.

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