Waiting for salt, arctic cold to arrive

By William Duffield bduffield@civitasmedia.com

January 28, 2014

XENIA — There is a salt shortage in Greene County and the State of Ohio.

Greene County Engineer Bob Geyer made that announcement Friday, confirming what most anyone who has paid attention this winter already suspected.

Before this past weekend’s latest visit from Old Man Winter, the county was very short on supply.

Geyer said that on Friday, the Greene County Highway Department had about 500 tons on hand but was waiting for a delivery.

“It should be noted,” he said, “it takes 100 tons to go around the county once.

Geyer added that winds are not cooperating with the road crews’ efforts.

“High winds, 30- to 35-MPH for extended periods… will cause drifting that could cause roads to be impassable at times,” Geyer said. “The department has gravel material on hand for traction and to mix with salt if necessary.”

Now, with snow not in the forecast for days, the work switches to frozen roadways and bridges as temperatures dip to sub-zero again.

“We are going to do all we can with the current resources we have on hand and available to us to keep the roads safe and passable,” Geyer said. “We were promised salt (Friday) by our supplier but have not received any.

“We got 200 tons on Saturday,” he said. “(After what was used last weekend) I have about 300 tons right now and we are mixing 50/50 with sandy 9’s (grit) and we increased the liquid (Beet Heet) by 50 percent to help with the melt. It seems to be working fairly well.”

Geyer said the back-to-back storms are starting to blend together.

“It just seems that we no sooner get a storm cleaned up and we get another small skiff with wind and it’s time to start all over,” Geyer said. “Starting Jan. 2, we have worked every day on snow and ice except for Jan. 11 and 12.

“The guys are getting tired, but I think they are the most committed and the best in the area at what they do.”

Geyer said the salt supply will have to hold until more can come in.

“Again, we are going to deal with this situation with the hand we have been dealt by the salt suppliers and Mother Nature and attempt to keep the roads as safe as possible. Please slow down if you venture out! My only hope is that the snow predicted does not hit, but with the winds predicted only a small amount of snow will make driving extremely difficult with blowing and drifting snow.

“We still have 2,000 tons of salt on order but have received nothing since Tuesday as the stockpiles are depleted. It took from Jan. 3 to Jan. 21 to get the last 2,000 tons and in the end we are farther behind now than when we placed the order. Lastly, be safe if you venture out, as we prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

The county isn’t the only customer with salt problems.

“We have a two-week back order,” Dave Wedderburn of Collett Propane said of their salt orders. “We supply salt to landscapers and other businesses that do plowing and so on, but we have problems getting it, too.”

William Duffield can be reached at 937-372-4444 ext. 133 or on Twitter @WilliamDuffield.