COUNTY NEWS: Highway department prepares for, responds to winter

Last week, the Brown County Highway Superintendent said he has four contracted drivers on call to use the county’s equipment to clear snow-covered roads this winter as the highway department continues to face a staffing shortage.

“We have enough trucks, just not enough manpower to drive it,” said commissioner President Jerry Pittman on Jan. 19.

Magner said on Jan. 5 that he had been talking with two potential employees. He added that the number of applicants may become smaller as a recent federal requirement is set to go into effect in February that requires more training before a new driver can take a CDL driving test. Magner said that Indiana and Ohio have teamed together to create a training program that will be provided to all of the counties for free through INDOT.

At the Jan. 19 meeting, Commissioner Diana Biddle asked Magner for a status update on a part of Upper Bean Blossom Road that had ice on it, causing multiple accidents earlier this month.

Magner said when the ground was soft someone tried to turn their vehicle around in an old log road entrance, causing ruts that funneled water off the hill and onto the road. He said his crew ditched in that area and that the department had not received reports of ice in that area.

Magner said he put sand on that road Jan. 15 following unexpected winter weather that resulted in less than an inch of snow on the ground and ice on the roads.

“That was one of the best spots on the road. There was no water standing. It didn’t freeze in that curve. That took care of the problem,” Magner said.

Magner said he believed the speed of vehicles that hit the patch of ice and the fact they hit their brakes caused most of the crashes.

He also told the commissioners on Jan. 19 that he had placed an order for salt and sand that day to fill the highway department’s mix barn back up.