Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 10, 2014

Snow, ice takes bite out of salt/sand supplies

By Boris Ladwig Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — This week’s snow, ice and wind ate into local street and highway departments’ salt supplies, overtime budgets and damaged some equipment.

But city and county officials said that while they hope that additional storms bypass Decatur County, they still have enough salt supplies to battle more snow and ice.

Greensburg Street Department went through about 200 tons of salt this week, about half its annual allotment, said Mark Klosterkemper, the department’s commissioner.

He said the department nearly depleted its 200-ton storage facility Wednesday — though deliveries since then have boosted supplies to near 100 tons.

“It’s hard on the budget, “Klosterkemper said, “(but) I’m not in a crisis mode yet.”

The city budgets between 350 and 400 tons of salt per year, for about 70 miles of roads, Klosterkemper said.

“I kind of have to operate on a shoestring,” he said.

The department also could not use a lot of its sand, he said, because it keeps the sand outside. Heavy rains on Sunday and quickly falling temperatures turned the sand into a solid block and made it unusable.

Salt and ice also stuck to the equipment, and the extreme cold caused some damage to salt spreaders. Klosterkemper said, however, that he was expecting some parts to be delivered, and that all equipment save for one spreader should again be operational today.

Decatur County Highway Department used close to 600 tons of a salt/sand mixture this week on its 660 miles of roads, at a total cost of about $15,000, said Mark Mohr, the department’s superintendent.

The department got a 90-ton salt delivery on Thursday, which boosted supply to acceptable levels, Mohr said, although he expected the price to continue to rise because of the significant demand from Indiana counties further north.

Mohr also warned that although a lot of the snow has disappeared from roads, some patches of ice may remain because Sunday’s rains froze quickly when temperatures plunged.

The department’s 24 employees did not incur much overtime, Mohr said, because the employees typically work 10-hour shifts from Monday through Thursday. Three of the department’s employees worked through the night and helped dispatch fire and police runs and performed maintenance on highway department equipment, which allowed crews to get back on the roads more quickly.

The Greensburg Street Department racked up more than 100 hours of overtime this week, Klosterkemper said, or about a quarter of what it budgets for the entire year.

The employees did a great job, he said, and he expected trash collection, which had been delayed because of the weather, to be back on schedule by the end of this week.

Both Klosterkemper and Mohr said they are ready for spring.

“I don’t want to see any more of those types of storms,” Klosterkemper said.

Contact: Boris Ladwig 812-663-3111 x 7401; boris.ladwig@greensburgdailynews.com