New salt barn sits high on county wish list

Dec. 30—Daviess County officials may have been very good, but apparently, they were not good enough for Santa to bring them one of the top items on their wish list, a new salt barn. Daviess County Highway Supervisor Chris Winkler says the current salt barn on Walnut Street in Washington has a number of problems starting with the amount of material it can hold.

"We want to be able to store more salt and that is why we are looking to build a new salt barn," said Winkler. "If we got a week-long event, we would have to figure out a way to get more coming in while we are taking it out."

Replacing the salt barn in Washington with a more modern facility at the current garage is one the county has discussed for years.

"We have had that need for years. Our salt barn is down there by Taylor Oil," said Winkler. "When it was first put in, it was a fertilizer building. It is full of cribs and posts in it. It doesn't hold a lot of salt for us. It is a metal pole building and it is rusting out. We have reskinned it, new roof and siding."

Officials also contend that the location of the building makes operations on snow days very inefficient.

"We are still talking about it. We need to get our salt barn out of the city of Washington and out to the county highway department. It makes sense," said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Michael Taylor. "As it is, our trucks have to traipse through town and get caught in traffic and stop lights and everything. It is really an efficiency killer. If we had the barn out at the county highway, we could be a lot more efficient in fighting snow on the roads in weather like we have had in the last few days."

"When we are trying to clear the county roads, we have to send our trucks through town to get salt loaded. We easily lose an hour coming in to load up. We just lose time," said Winkler. "We would be more efficient if we had the salt building at the county highway garage."

A new barn would also give the county a place to put together a brine operation so that roads could be pretreated before snowfalls.

"We cannot put down brine right now because we cannot get it," said Winkler. "If we get a new building we have some tanks and we want to make our own brine. We even have a truck we have built that sprays brine."

County commissioners and highway officials may have wanted the barn for a number of years, but it keeps coming up against other big-ticket items like the annex and the courthouse renovation project.

"It is getting tighter to do things. But these are all things that need to be done, including the salt-barn," said Taylor. "At the end of the day once we get everything done, we can go back to maintenance instead of construction again."

"It has always been a matter of money," said Winkler. "We have some money we could use toward a new salt building. I got an estimate on a fabric salt building and it ran around $1 million. I am reaching out to some of our local guys that may be able to come up with a better local design for the project."

County officials also believe they may be able to leverage some of their current real estate assets to help provide funding for a new salt-barn at the current highway garage.

"This is just one commissioner talking, but I would like to sell that property where we currently have our salt-barn and that would help compensate for a new barn," said Taylor. "There are a couple of other pieces of property that the county owns that we don't need anymore. We could consider selling the old highway garage office. There are ways we could make some money and fund the salt building, but that is just one commissioner talking."