Owen Highway Department Thankful For Plowing Help From Neighboring Monroe
Owen County benefitted from three tandem-axle trucks on Wednesday, four on Thursday and three on Friday, provided by Monroe County thanks to the coordinating efforts of Owen County Emergency Management Agency Director Jack White.
“I’m sure at the end of this, they will put a figure together for the fuel, materials and their people’s hourly wage,” Donnie Minnick, president of the Owen County Board of Commissioners, said during Friday morning’s first public meeting of the new year. “Hats off to Jack White, he was the one who found this resource for us.”
While repairs have been made to two of the four trucks in the highway department’s fleet previously deemed inoperable, Owen County Highway Department Superintendent Joe Pettijohn and his crew continued to utilizing just one tandemaxle truck for plowing on Friday.
“(Monroe County drivers) have been here for three days, I don’t know how we can ask them to come back Monday,” Minnick said. “We may need them again sometime and I don’t want to abuse their help. They have just been immaculate. I’m sure we’re going to have people out Saturday, and I’m sure we still need to keep the front-end loader in the picture until we’re out of this mess.”
Pettijohn said he had trucks focused on previously unopened roads Friday, including the Fish Creek deltas, Blunk, Hickson Hill, Ellis Lake and Ruble roads. He noted that a backhoe was utilized to bust open snow drifts to allow plow trucks to begin plowing for removal. Several other roads still had just one lane of travel open.
“They are out and having to readdress a lot of roads, because it has softened up and they are getting tough to get through again,” Minnick said of the county’s rural roadways.
Pettijohn explained that drifting snow often made for several repeat trips down the same roadways for plow truck drivers.
Minnick added that the commissioners and the county council have agreed to speak in the future about equipment needs for the highway garage.
“The council knows we have to do something and it’s not that they’re opposed to it. The council is the ‘bank’ and they want something laid out explaining what we need and what we’re going to get to make it justifiable,” Minnick noted.
Owen County Council President Patty Steward said the council decided during 2013 budget hearings in August to make equipment purchases with one-time monies, rather than through budgeting for equipment needs.
“I think we’re looking for more details as far as the actual equipment needed,” Steward said. “Joe had a good laundry list for us of things that are needed, but we have to prioritize.”
The commissioners received an invoice totaling $300 from Arthur & Son for snow removal on Country Club and Romona Road following the recent winter storm, however, the board voted 3-0 to deny the claim and take it under advisement, noting the individuals were not contracted with the county for snow removal from county roadways.
Pettijohn said outside of snow removal, his department has been hauling fill material on Patricksburg Road to bridge #84 where CLR, Inc. has steel beams in place and is awaiting the weather to allow the pouring of a concrete deck.
Also related to bridges, the commissioners voted 3-0 to hold a $6,000 retainage fee until a drainage issue has been remedied on bridge #174 by CLR, Inc. The board also voted 3-0 to take bids for a new bridge on Mangus Road from CLR, Inc. under advisement. Pettijohn said a bridge was once in place and was replaced by a large culvert more than 10 years ago. However, the culvert will not hold the volume of water, leading to major washouts.
Also during Friday’s meeting, the commissioners voted 3-0 to take bids from various vendors under advisement. Pettijohn was directed to review all bids for items ranging from stone, asphalt, bridges and culverts to lube, fuel and antifreeze.
Lastly, the commissioners took under advisement a bill from Rail- America for flagman costs associated with the replacement of bridge #174 on Lingle Road. County attorney Richard Lorenz said he would investigate the charges and report back to the board later this month.
The Owen County Board of Commissioners will meet again on Tuesday, January 21, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Room, located on the second floor of the Owen County Courthouse.
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