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Difference of Opinion with Equipment Purchase for Highway Department

June 10, 2014
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Monday morning during the County Council meeting Commissioner Jack Roose took advantage of the public input portion to voice his opposition in having the highway department purchase a new piece of equipment. 

A couple of weeks ago a company demonstrated “the Zipper,” a machine that grinds up the asphalt and soil and lays it back down to create a new base.  The surface is then sprayed with calcium chloride to help harden it.  The road is then left for a period of up to a year before it would be chip and sealed, pugged or asphalted. 

Roose said they are close to appointing a new department head and “I believed he is best suited to make the call of spending $160,000 instead of the temporary foreman.” He commented that the county has several projects including fog sealing North Michigan Road, the new 7th Road project and the paving of the Community Resource Center parking lot.  He closed by saying, “I think it’s best to hold off and let the new superintendent make the decision.”

During the discussion of future additional Commissioner Kevin Overmyer appeared with highway foreman Jason Peters.  Overmyer said the county won’t be fog sealing North Michigan Road due to the construction at the intersection with the new 7th Road.  He also said, “We are not too close to hiring a superintendent.” 

Overmyer then discussed the “Zipper” and gave details of the location where the demonstration was conducted.  He indicated that another company who has the Road Hog, a similar machine would like to give a demonstration to county decision makers too. 

Peters said the new machine would reclaim the road, which is much cheaper than doing a new road.  He said the plan would be to concentrate on the bad areas first and noted that citizens would be able to drive over the ground-up material right away. 

Overmyer said they were looking for support for the purchase and suggested either use Rainy Day funds or take advantage of the 5 year payment plan offered. 

Commissioner Overmyer reminded Council members of the $4.3 million the highway department will be receiving over a three year period for the relinquishment of US 31 once the new road is open.    Council members seemed interested in purchasing the equipment using the 5 year payment plan and once the county receives its first installment from the state they would pay off the machine, paying only a few months of interest. 

The commissioner said they would look at both machines before making a determination of which would be best for the county.

Council members shared their support for the purchase.   

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