By Roz Kohls
Meeker County State Aid Highway 18, south of Dassel, is a classic example of what happens when a road goes too long without repair, according to County Engineer Ron Mortensen. It breaks apart, he added.
Mortensen told the County Board of Commissioners Tuesday that the road is crumbling apart in eight locations. It was supposed to have been resurfaced years ago, but there were never any funds to do it, he said.
The county’s seven-year plan has the resurfacing of six miles of the road, especially the part south of Lake Jennie, delayed to 2013. The county is trying to hold it together until then with patching, he said.
Mortensen couldn’t make an estimate for the county board how much patching will cost, because the price of oil from which bituminous is made, climbed again recently. Bituminous manufacturers haven’t set their prices yet, he added.
The road will deteriorate further because traffic will be diverted to it from Meeker County Road 15, southeast of Dassel. County Road 15 will be under construction this summer, he said.
Mortensen also said he is sure the road is being damaged by too-heavy trucks. The road is designed for five-ton trucks, and he has seen 10-ton trucks on it, he said.
Unfortunately, Meeker County sheriff’s deputies are not trained to enforce weight restrictions, Mortensen added.
Also, the road is on the edge of the county, far from the law enforcement center in Litchfield, making it difficult to patrol, added County Commissioner Amy Wilde.
In other highway department news, bid openings for the Dassel bike trail to Spring Lake Park will be Tuesday, May 13 at the highway department.
An “open house” about the construction of Highway 27 between Trunk Highway 15 and County Road 24, Kingston, will be Thursday, May 29, he said.
The county board awarded the brush and weed spraying contract to Central Applicators of Foley for $47 per mile of brush, $47 per mile of weeds, and $175 per mile of drainage ditches.
The county board also purchased a John Deere 265 rotary disk mower from Mies Outland Inc. of Watkins for $2,663, which includes sales tax.
In addition, the county board purchased a bulk oil system from JM Oil Co, of St. Cloud for $7,192, not including sales tax. The system is to replace having multiple containers of oil taking up space and collecting dust in highway department facilities, Mortensen said.
The county board also approved Rick’s Plumbing & Heating of Litchfield for the black iron piping and installation, for $7,200, for the bulk oil system. County commissioners expressed concern about the quote from Rick, however, because it was so much lower than the others. Dave’s Heat & A/C of Litchfield quoted $11,176, and Arne’s Heating and Plumbing of Kimball quoted $13,550.
Wilde said Rick possibly intends to use materials he already has in the shop.
The highway department also hired its seasonal mower operators. They are Stan Radunz, Harley Hendrickson, Norman DeGeest, Ed Daugherty, Larry Hanson, Eugene Barker, and Larry Boreen.
The seasonal engineering aides hired are Shane Johnson, Christopher Sundmark, and Justin Radenmacker.
Odds and ends
In other business, the county board:
• renewed an interim use permit for Gilbert Anderson of Dassel for a small gravel pit in Dassel Township.
• approved the final plat of Parson Flats for the Rev. Doug and Irene Pierce near 705th Avenue, south of Dassel.
• hired Carol Loch as a public health nurse for $27.09 an hour. She is a school nurse for the Hutchinson School District, and won’t start with Meeker County until July 1.
• decided to lend Bob Hermann and Chuck Fuller of the county park board up to $15,000 for five years at no interest for materials to re-shingle and other projects in the Forest City Stockade.
• approved hiring Judy Jones as a jury attendant and bailiff for $10.88 an hour, and as a transport officer with the county sheriff’s office for $13.73 an hour.
• heard a report that Joe Lenz has returned to his position as jail administrator for $30 an hour after a leave of absence.
• approved sergeant’s training for county deputy Joel Engler in Iowa.