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A-K Valley well-stocked with road salt despite snowy start to season

Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Matt Cline, a Harrison Township roadworker, dumps a bucket load of salt into his truck at the salt storage facility to treat icy roads after snowfall on Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.

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Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Although the region was pelted with more snow than normal in December, road salt reserves remain plentiful.

Local salt supplies have more than weathered the 10 major snowfalls so far — about double the normal amount this time of year, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Rehak.

And expect more salt usage to handle snow forecast for late Wednesday evening into Thursday.

But residents need not fret: Municipalities either have salt left over from the light winter last season or had no problems ordering new supplies.

Avonmore just got a load of 25 tons last week.

“We haven't used much more than last year,” said Les Snyder, Avonmore's road maintenance supervisor.

Same thing in Buffalo Township: “We're in real good shape,” said John Gaydos, township road master.

The rural community has used about 500 tons of salt in December and has another 500 tons coming in.

“We're a little bit over from what we normally use,” he said.

“But it's still early in the year,” Gaydos said.

Floyd Newingham, Arnold's city clerk, said the city carried over 200 tons from last year and put in a new order in November that should shield the city from any impending snowstorms.

“We did start a little earlier than usual for the snow,” Newingham said. “But there were no excessive amounts to treat,” he said.

Newingham is not concerned about the road-salt market: The city is one of a number of local governments that gets a slice of the bulk buying of the COSTARS program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.

“The main benefit to local government is they don't have to individually go out for a bid,” said Bruce Beardsley, marketing manager of COSTARS.

“They are piggybacking on a state contract. We accumulate all the demands of the communities and go out for bid for huge quantities,” he said.

COSTARS' contract with American Rock Salt covers more than 1,500 municipalities, as well as PennDOT, with more than 700,000 tons among the communities. The current contract has an average price of $58.36 per ton, a five percent drop from 2012-13, according to Beardsley.

The additional snow this year and demand from COSTARS communities and other customers have been good for American Rock Salt.

“We really have a winter this year,” said Ann Blake, chief financial officers for American Rock Salt Holdings in Mt. Morris, N.Y.

“The early winter has been a blessing,” she said.

As the last two years have been “light” winters, Blake said, “I think people got lulled into a lack of snow.”

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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