Sparse treatment of roads during a Dec. 15 and 16 snow and ice storm has left many county residents unhappy.
Centre school superintendent Susan Beeson sent county commissioners a Dec. 18 letter calling on them to improve maintenance of ice and snow-packed roads after the school had to cancel classes two days following the storm.
“Most local schools were able to resume classes on Tuesday, Dec. 17, as they are located in communities where roads are well traveled and maintained, making access to schools possible and safer,” Beeson wrote.
Beeson said Centre has to cancel school more days than other school districts.
“After putting buses out on the roads Wednesday morning, Dec. 18, I became aware, even then, the roads were treacherous for travel and school should have been closed a third day,” Beeson wrote.
Beeson called on commissioners’ “sense of integrity as county leaders” to provide necessary resources for repairing rural roads for safe travel.
She said roads traveled by school buses should be salted, cleared, and maintained for the safety of residents and students.
At the commission’s Dec. 16 meeting, commissioner Dianne Novak took county engineer Brice Goebel to task over road conditions, complaining that road and bridge employees hadn’t done enough to keep roads clear and safe.
Goebel answered that the county has no place to store road salt, and when crews salt and more snow or ice covers the salt, the road must be salted again. He also said salting, sanding, or brining roads is costly.
That discussion was revisited last Monday in remarks by county resident Linda Peters.
Reading from a prepared statement, Peters said she thought one commissioner’s comment that people could stay home when roads are that bad was “arrogant.”
“When discussion of salt/brine/sand and how to handle those and excuses of why things were not done leads me to the question of would this not be a long-term plan discussion in our county,” Peters said.
“We already know Marion County has not kept our road and bridge department up to the needs of our county, so yes, we have to make do as we are behind the eight ball, but this is not where this should end.
We hired an engineer to develop and restructure our road and bridge department which should include our present and future needs. If storage issues are a concern, then that should be included in the plan and not a day after we need it.”
Lincolnville resident Mike Beneke said the Lincolnville area got three inches of snow followed by rain that froze into ice.
If county workers had treated the road the following day when roads were fairly clear, it would have made a difference.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said perhaps the county needs to make a decision to buy salt storage bins. Dallke said commissioners could ask for bids.