Jefferson County Finds Salt for Upcoming Winter

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By Evie Allen
By Andy Shofstall

MT. VERNON -- Salt is in high demand, and county road officials are struggling to find suppliers. Jefferson County was able to place an order, but it came at a high price.

"Everybody is well aware, we need the salt. I mean, we need to have it," says Jefferson County Highway Engineer Brandon Simmons.

The county came very close to running out of salt last winter. Simmons is hoping they won't run into the same problem, but salt has been hard to come by. 

In mid July, the state sent a letter saying Jefferson County was one of nine southern Illinois counties that would not being receiving a supply.

"They strongly suggested we look for other places to get salt," Simmons explains.  

Finding a supplier proved to be harder than anticipated. Simmons called nearly 40 suppliers, but response was cold.

"One after another they either weren't bidding, or they didn't sell to southern Illinois, or they weren't taking new customers. And then I found one company out of Kansas that had salt for sale."   

The Kansas company had salt for $117 per ton - nearly double the county's cost last year of $60 per ton. Running out of time, an emergency county board meeting was held to approve the nearly $70,000 price tag. 

"If we would have put ourselves in play for buying salt on Monday of this week, you know, it's first-come first serve at that point. Who knows if we would have gotten any salt? And if we would have, what the cost of that salt would have gone to," adds Jefferson County Board Chairman Bob White. 

Simmons says he doesn't know what this winter will bring, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

"If we don't get any snow this year, we'll all look a little foolish, you know, for doing this. But you've got to prepare, I mean we could have another winter like last year."

Simmons says they should be receiving the salt within the next couple of weeks. They're also looking into getting brine equipment to help conserve their salt supply.

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