Mitch Whitmill, Superintendent of the Noxious Weeds Department, approached the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners on May 2 to inform them of need for more storage space for his and the Road and Bridge departments.
Whitmill stated his department had agreed to allow Road and Bridge to utilize part of their current storage building, a 40 foot wide and 140 foot long building in Roberts, to store their equipment during the winter months.
“We’re a little short on storage in the winter months,” Whitmill said. “We created room for Road and Bridge to have shop and storage space, and we hadn’t planned on it, but the Sheriff had some things to store, too. . . We have multiple pieces of equipment that are being kept outside.”
The weed department has spray trucks currently being kept outside, according to Whitmill. These trucks have electrical components to them which allow the vehicles to house the sprayers. Whitmill stated keeping them outside could cause problems for them in future. He also stated vehicles kept outside are prone to quicker deterioration.
Road and Bridge has multiple large and expensive pieces of equipment which need to be protected from the outside elements. Whitmill listed a snow plow, a patching truck and a chip spreader for chip seal as vehicles being kept in the storage facility during the winter months.
In the Spring, he said, Road and Bridge comes out to pack up and haul their equipment back to the yard at their compound. All of this equipment is then kept outside while it’s being utilized during the summer. However, according to Whitmill, the equipment also faces deterioration damage from direct sunlight and the occasional summer storm. They then return the equipment to the Roberts facility in the fall.
At the meeting, Public Works Director Dave Walrath told the commissioners that even a small shelter to protect his equipment from the sunlight would suffice.
“It would be better than what we’ve got,” Walrath said. “We’re shoehorning things in there.”
Whitmill stated after the commissioner’s meeting that he believes it would be better to construct a storage space for Road and Bridge out at their own complex.
“It doesn’t seem efficient,” Whitmill said, referring to the way Road and Bridge moves all of their equipment twice a year. “It takes time, resources and equipment to move that stuff. The money spent on that may be able to pay for a building or something.”
Another issue both men cited at the meeting was the lack of space in the facility to perform maintenance on equipment for both departments.
Whitmill stated both departments offer services to the tax payers, which he hopes are of value to the public. Their services, he said, are key for the agriculture industry in the county. In order to provide services up to par with what the taxpayers expect, Whitmill stated they need the space and the facilities to allow the proper care and maintenance of their equipment.
At the meeting, Whitmill volunteered to take on the leg work of getting something figured out for Road and Bridge.
“I offered to do the leg work or be project manager,” Whitmill said after the meeting. “They’re busy, and on top of your regular job, [a building] takes designing and bidding. I said I’d do whatever I can to help them build it.”
Whitmill stated helping Road and Bridge come up with their own storage and shop facility may benefit his own department in the long run, but he’s willing to do what it takes to take good care of the public’s equipment since both departments are responsible for the equipment paid by the taxpayer dollars.
The goal in discussing this at the commissioner’s meeting was to bring the need to their attention.
“I wanted to make them aware,” Whitmill said. “With changes coming in Road and Bridge now that Dave’s leaving, I wanted to make sure they were aware of the situation.”
No decisions were made at the meeting, but Whitmill believes making the commissioners aware of the need will allow them to begin looking into possible solutions.
“Hopefully they keep it moving forward,” Whitmill said. “There are always projects that need completed.”