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Detour traffic and ice concern county

News editor

Treatment of icy roads and vehicles circumventing construction of the U.S. 56/77 and K-150 roundabout drew attention from commissioners Monday.

Commissioner Randy Dallke asked sheriff Rob Craft to clarify who was responsible for dispatching county crews when road conditions get icy.

Dallke said road superintendent Jesse Hamm told him that sheriff’s officers usually call out road and bridge crews, but that a sheriff’s officer told him they didn’t.

“What we have done in the past when we find bad spots is that we notify road and bridge of that location,” Craft sad. “We generally find the slick spots pretty quick. A lot of times the road people call us and ask what’s going on out there.”

Dallke suggested Craft and Hamm get together to clarify procedures so that everyone will know what their roles are.

“I’m wanting to make sure it doesn’t stay at the table, but that it goes to our leaders in road and bridge and you as the sheriff, and also each dispatcher knows at 1 a.m. when it turns to ice that they know what to do.”

Dallke noted that the county uses sand to treat roads, while Butler and Harvey counties use salt and sand mixtures. Residents around Peabody notice the difference, he said.

“I appreciated the comments from those people because they’re living there, they’re seeing it, they’re driving on it,” he said. “Their kids were driving on it, too. They said if they could send them down a rock road with just ice, well, that wouldn’t be so bad, but we’ve got this and they couldn’t go down rock roads.”

Appearing later in the meeting, Hamm confirmed that just sand is used, and explained that the equipment the county uses limits what they can do.

Sand is applied only at intersections and on curves, Hamm said, because driving down a road in a sand-filled dump truck with a tipped bed, necessary to feed sand into a spreader, is hazardous. A salt and sand mixture would be more expensive, and would require a different system that the county doesn’t have.

Commission Chairman Dan Holub said he has received complaints about people getting stuck on county roads they use to bypass roundabout construction to get to K-150, which is open to local traffic but otherwise closed.

“Guys are having to pull people out of the detours,” he said. “They’re buried in mud out there on 210th and 190th. They said there were four of the out there yesterday.”

Craft said officers write tickets for drivers using K-150 as a through route in violation of signs, but that they can’t regulate traveling on open county roads.

Holub had a suggestion.

“Set up a sign saying $500 to pull you out if you get stuck,” he said. “The tow bill has a misery factor.”

Holub said he expected construction of the roundabout to be finished by late December.

In other business:

  • Holub said he had trouble getting itemized receipts for food he purchased on a recent trip. Commissioners previously have denied reimbursement to county employees who did not provide itemized receipts. “I see their frustration,” Holub said.
  • Health department director Diedre Serene met for a second time with commissioners to advocate hiring a consultant at $50 an hour to conduct home visits for expecting and new parents. A $7,100 state grant funds the program, but the department has spent just $330 of that since July, and Serene said the county was in danger of losing the funds.
  • Hamm received permission to seek bids of up to $30,000 for a new trailer to be used to transport a backhoe and culverts. The old trailer would be kept and used for smaller loads.

Last modified Dec. 3, 2015

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