Marion County finds new supplier of road salt to help ease shortage concern

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Dec. 3, 2018 8:25 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. -- While road salt supplies continue to be tight for many governmental entities across the Midwest, Marion County has managed to ease its shortage concerns.

The Marion County Commission last month announced it was stepping up efforts to stockpile enough road salt to last all winter. The county was taking action because it had received no responses to its request for roads salt bids earlier this fall -- an unusual situation.

Presiding Commissioner Lyndon bode said county officials were "kind of scrambling" to find some salt from suppliers who have worked with the county in the past.

Since then, he said, Marion County Highway Department Supervisor Mike Schaefer managed to work out a deal with Lomax Trucking of Hannibal to provide a sufficient quantity of road salt to the county this winter.

"We haven't got it in yet, but hopefully that will get us through most of the winter," Bode said.

Ordinarily, the Marion County Highway Department tries to start each winter with about 250 tons of road salt on hand. Luckily, Bode said, last winter was relatively mild without much ice to make roads slick, so the county was able to start this winter season with about 125 tons available that went unused last year.

But county officials nonetheless wanted to make sure they had enough on hand to last all winter. So when no bids came in because of the widespread salt shortage, the county was forced to start beating the bushes for a supplier -- until they luckily found one.

Not every community has been so fortunate, however. The Associated Press reported that municipal officials at many locations across the Snow Belt have had difficulty replenishing their depleted road salt supplies at a reasonable price, so they have started hoping for a mild winter.

"Everybody's got their fingers crossed for good weather," said Rebecca Matsco, an official in western Pennsylvania's Beaver County, where one salt contract price came in at $109 a ton -- 95 percent higher than last year.

The increases are frustrating to local officials who are locked into tight budgets. Some highway superintendents say they could choose to make their salt supplies last by mixing in more sand, which is cheaper. And others say it could force them to defer other road projects. But they can't stop salting slick roads.

Bode said Marion County was fortunate to have a sufficient supply of road salt on hand when dealing with last week's big snowstorm, which dumped 6 inches of snow on many parts of the region and left many roads slick for driving.

"We had enough to cover us, and we still have some available," Bode said.

During its regular weekly meeting Monday, the Marion County Commission primarily handled routine county business.

The commission agreed to sign a letter of support for Palmyra Recycle, which requested the letter as part of its intention to seek a grant through the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.