by Jason M. Rodriguez
— Mother Nature sprinkled a little bit of snow on Cass County Monday morning, but area officials are ready for Old Man Winter after last year’s mild showing.
The county highway department is well under way in preparing the 22 trucks it uses to take on Mother Nature’s coldest challenges. In fact, more than half of the fleet is ready to hit the road, said superintendent Jeff Smith.
“My goal has been before Thanksgiving, we’ll have everything ready to roll and be ready for a full-on snowfall,” Smith said.
The county will save more than $14,000 by not taking as much road salt as it was contracted to buy through the state this year, he said. It’s able to do that because of last year’s mild winter, which was the fourth mildest for this region, according to the National Weather Service, North Webster office.
The county had to take 191 tons of salt from last year’s contract for this year, which will leave it with between 300 and 400 tons of salt for this season.
“Unless we have just a horrible winter, we ought to be pretty good on salt,” Smith said.
Dan Williams, superintendent of public works for Logansport, said the city had about 65 percent of its stockpile left from last year.
“But at the same time, we’re going to buy in 2013 the same amount that we did before just for the simple reason we don’t know what 2013 is going to be,” Williams said. “Our supplier will store this at no cost to us.”
The city also buys its salt through the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The city saved about $26,000 in salt, fuel for the eight trucks it has in its winter fleet and overtime due to last winter’s mild conditions. Williams said the city and county had worked out a plowing agreement where the two will share duties with roads surrounding the city. It’s part of a pledge Mayor Ted Franklin made to share services with the county in an effort to save money, Williams said.
As for this winter, Williams said he isn’t taking any chances with Mother Nature.
“We’re not cutting back,” he said. “We’re in very good shape financially. We’re in better shape than we’ve been, according to our records, in four years.”