Rocky Fork Enterprise

Low salt stash forces city to skip residential streets

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Gahanna's residential streets won't be treated until salt supplies become stable, but they will be plowed.

City service director Dottie Franey recently informed Gahanna City Council that the city is having difficulty in obtaining salt orders.

Deliveries that once took three to five days are now taking seven to 10 days, she said. In addition to a longer wait, Gahanna is receiving partial orders instead of full orders.

She said the city has suspended salt application on flat residential streets, but Gahanna will continue to salt arterial streets, bridges and intersections with slopes as needed.

"We're withholding salt from the flat, residential streets until the deliveries are stable," Franey said.

If police report dangerous conditions on particular streets, Franey said, the city will address the situation as usual.

"We'll continue to plow," she said. "We just aren't putting salt down on flat residential streets."

Gahanna bids its road salt through the Southwest Ohio Purchasers for Government consortium that includes dozens of municipalities and townships. The successful bidder for Gahanna was North American.

Franey said salt companies are trying to get some amount of salt to everyone needing it, but orders have to be reduced to meet demand.

Lisa Koppin, a SWOP4G organizer who handles the road-salt contract, said all companies are having trouble getting salt to their customers because of many factors, including extremely cold weather. She said the effects likely would be felt for weeks to come.

As of Jan. 27, Gahanna had used 2,500 tons of salt, costing $88,545. The city also had used 8,500 gallons of brine, costing $1,275, according to public-information manager Niel Jurist.

The city has faced 19 snow and ice overtime events as of Jan. 27, she said. As a result of the inclement weather, overtime costs for the city have totaled $67,861.

 

Schools schedule makeup days at end of year

The Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools had used all five state-allotted calamity days for inclement weather as of Jan. 28, said Mallory Sribanditmongkol, the district's public-information manager.

Superintendent Francis Scruci recently told the school board he takes calamity days very seriously.

"I'm very concerned about our students' safety," he said. "On days we expect bad weather or the hint of it, myself, (director of elementary education) Scott Schmidt and (supervisor of buildings and grounds) Rick Owens are on the roads by 4:30 a.m. We watch the news, and we're out on the roads looking."

By 5 a.m., the three men meet at central office and watch the news again.

"We try to make a decision," Scruci said. "We need to make a decision by 5:30 a.m."

On Jan. 2, he said, no snow was on the ground at 4:30 a.m. But by 5:15 a.m., it was spitting snow.

"I took a shower and came out, and snow was on the ground," Scruci said. "The criticism started rolling in. It was a late snow. The city and township do a good job with the roads. But the roads weren't treated. I have broad shoulders. People send emails. They don't expect a response. I call them. When there's a concern, I address it ear to ear."

He said Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 6 and 7, were "no-brainers" to cancel classes because of the extremely cold temperatures.

The Jan. 28 cancellation was the district's fifth. Temperatures were subzero again -- in the double digits in some areas.

Scruci said -10 degrees is his threshold.

"Some kids don't have the proper outerwear," he said. "Minus-10 is a dangerous temperature. I will err on the side of what's safe for kids."

If the district exceeds five calamity days, he said, makeup days will be added to the end of the school year.

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