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Gravel needs mulled

By Staff | Oct 28, 2009

Emmet County supervisors got some gravel in their gizzards Tuesday.

The issue, and a reoccurring one, was the amount of gravel the supervisors think should go on county roads – and how to pay for it.

“From me sitting here, we need more gravel,” said supervisor Ron Smith.

“Then get the checkbook out,” said supervisor Alan Madden.

Regardless of needs – and how to pay for them – the board was pretty unanimous about the county’s responsibility in keeping up county gravel roads, something that’s increasingly difficult given heavier loads.

“With the equipment that’s going over it, it’s getting squashed out,” said Smith.

Board chair Randy Beaver said he had reviewed every county road and determined it would take 60,000 tons of gravel, or 5,000 tons per township and 100 tons each half mile, to regravel all roads in the county. Beaver wasn’t speaking just from his supervisor’s seat but also from a lifelong career as a heavy equipment operator – earlier as a county secondary roads employee and now as a private contractor.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Smith, observing that harvest season wasn’t yet in full force.

“What’s going to show up is the ditches we haven’t cleaned. There’s going to be soft spots,” said supervisor Jim Jenson.

Madden said all gravel roads in the areas were build up of black dirt, another issue that compounds the problem during wet seasons.

Supervisor Bev Juhl, who served 20 years as county auditor, said the board has been giving secondary roads 80 percent of what it qualifies for. The county is required to give 75 percent of the rural services levy to secondary roads or else lose part of its road use tax.

Juhl said three deputies and and the county’s share of emergency management also comes from the rural services levy. If the county gave secondary roads over 80 percent of the 3.33 levy, Juhl said it would have to raise the levy.

In other business at Tuesday’s board meeting, Dave Kaltved gave the engineer’s report in the absence of county engineer Roger Patocka who was attending a conference. Kaltved noted the county is continuing two maintenance agreements with Gruver and Dolliver.

Auditor Mikki Erickson told the board census officials want to get the word out about census surveys which will start in March.

Erickson said Emmet County and its communities stand to benefit if all individuals are counted.