Not wanting to damage gravel roads because of the condition of the snow is why Page County snow clearing crews put more emphasis on paved roads last weekend.
For the third weekend in a row, Page County was covered with snow. But the type of snow that began falling Saturday, Dec. 1, and into Sunday, Dec. 2, was wet and heavy. County Engineer J.D. King and county road superintendent Jeff Sherlock explained the strategy for snow removal to the Page County Board of Supervisors during their meeting Tuesday, Dec. 4.
“If we tore up the roads, it would be a disaster in the spring,” Sherlock said about what he discovered while observing conditions during the snowfall. The heavy, wet snow made it difficult to effectively remove the snow from rock and gravel roads, without damaging the road itself.
King said the storm started with light rain Saturday before turning into snow creating mud on rock and gravel roads. Temperatures did not drop below freezing.
“The gravel was not frozen, it was muddy and soft,” King said. Road graders were not put on the roads because of the condition. King said the road graders were used Tuesday since the roads’ surface had since frozen.
Supervisor Chuck Morris said he had received multiple calls from people inquiring about snow clearing operations, noting how hard-surfaced roads were given attention, but not gravel. Morris also said he was informed Montgomery and Fremont counties made more progress on their respective gravel roads than Page County.
“I know it was unusual conditions, but taxpayers are not happy,” Morris said about the snow.
“We have been spoiled with mild winters,” King said about the past few years.
Sherlock said he was near the Page-Taylor county line and noticed the condition of the roads would have created significant ruts if a road grader had been used.
Supervisor Alan Armstrong, who lives in Shenandoah, said he had heard “mixed reviews” of snow conditions. He said Fremont County had also noticed the wet snow did not make it ideal to clear gravel and dirt roads.
King and Sherlock said all snow clearing crews are usually at work at about 6 a.m.
Morris referred to a county ordinance from December 1996 that explains snow will not be cleared from 3:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. the next day, but snow clearing will be done as soon as possible or practical.
King said it is common for Iowa counties to have similar ordinances which were created after litigation.
Morris would like to further review that ordinance and revise it to improve snow clearing strategies.
“It needs clarification,” Morris said.
In other county news….
Supervisors approved a letter to Motorola requesting about $14,000 be removed from its bill in relation to the installation of the county’s new digital 911 system. Page County agreed in September 2017 on a contract with Motorola, which is providing the mechanical and infrastructure work.
The agreement was to have the project finished a year later, but technical delays have been part of the reason why it is not expected to be finished until January.
Supervisors approved a tax abatement of about $238 for certain property for the town of Shambaugh.