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Smithsburg turns to state for salt supply

February 08, 2001|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Smithsburg turns to state for salt supply



SMITHSBURG - After a problem getting road salt from Washington County, Smithsburg is turning to the state.

Bill Loughridge, Smithsburg's public works director, said Washington County was unable to provide salt three times this winter because its own supply was low.

He told the Mayor and Town Council Tuesday night that he will go to the Maryland State Highway Administration instead. Smithsburg will pay the state's supplier, International Salt Co., afterward to replace the loads the town takes.

Washington County and the SHA provide salt to local towns if they need it during snowstorms and the towns replace what they take.

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International Salt, which distributes salt from Baltimore, charges the state $35.78 per ton, said Gary Shank, the assistant resident engineer for the SHA in Hagerstown.

The SHA has maintained a steady supply this winter at its salt piles in Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Hancock and Hagerstown, Shank said.

The Washington County Highway Department has had enough salt most of the season, but has run low a few times, said Director Ted Wolford. He recalled turning away Smithsburg only once.

The county pays International Salt the same price as the state for salt.

In the past, the county gave the towns pure salt at no charge, but began billing them about $36 a ton this year to cover costs.

Towns can still get three free loads of a stone and salt mixture, Wolford said. The cost is about $22 per ton for additional loads.

Smithsburg cannot use the mix, which is known as "anti-skid," because it doesn't have a street sweeper to clean up residue, Loughridge said.

It's more convenient for Smithsburg's subcontractor to get salt from the SHA in Smithsburg than from the county in Hagerstown, Loughridge noted.

Other than Smithsburg, only the town of Hancock and the Washington County Board of Education have asked the county for salt, Wolford said.

Snow removal has been an issue of late in Smithsburg. Last month, Councilman Mike Rohrer left a message on the Town Hall answering machine, saying that the removal effort "stinks" and that sand or gravel should be used in alleys.

The Mayor and Town Council plan to talk about three proposed policies for streets and alleys on Feb. 27.

Other Washington County towns have not reported salt supply problems.

The town of Hancock usually gets salt from the SHA.

"We don't have any problems," Town Manager Louis O. Close said.

In Clear Spring, a subcontractor gets salt from the county, Town Clerk Juanita Grimm said.

The last load was picked up on Dec. 21, before the county started billing, she said.

Staff writers Scott Butki and Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story

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