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Jeannette salt supply is well stocked

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Many neighboring municipalities are reporting salt shortages and paying higher prices for new salt shipments, but that is not the case in Jeannette.

Rich Ault, city foreman, said he is expecting a 300-ton deliver of salt this week.

“We went into conservative mode for the last few snow events,” Ault said.

In some communities that has meant mixing their salt with anti-skid materials to stretch the supply. But in Jeannette what that means is that city workers focused on keeping main roads clear during the snow fall and waiting until the storms had passed before clearing the side streets.

Jeannette is under agreement with COSTARS, a state-wide contract for municipalities to purchase salt. Each July, Ault must estimate his salt needs for the upcoming winter. He requested 1,800 tons of salt and is required to purchase at least 60 percent of his estimate. The agreement also stipulates that the city is guaranteed up to 140 percent of the estimate at the same price.

Ault said this week's 300-ton delivery will put the city at its required 60 percent (just over 1,000 tons) purchase mark. Essentially that means the city has another 80 percent — or more than 1,400 tons — available to purchase at the locked-in rate. Ault said the city pays roughly $55 per ton through the agreement.

The overtime being paid by the city for snow removal has been high, Ault said. For example, in the last month alone the department was called out 11 times on emergencies and twice had to hold workers over at the end of their shifts to continue plowing.

“Everyone is burned out,” Ault said. “It's monotonous.”

He works hand-in-hand with the school district to determine if the schools should be delayed or canceled. A call usually comes in from Superintendent Matthew Hutcheson around 4:45 a.m. and Ault fills him in on the latest road conditions and gives his opinion on whether a delay is sufficient or if a cancellation is in order.

“During the work week, we want people to get to work safely and to make sure the kids get to school OK,” said Ault. “It's less pressure on weekends because more people can stay home.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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