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Commissioners tell farm manager to buy new truck

“WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH THIS TRUCK?” asks the cardboard sign on the front windshield of the county’s rusted-out 1994 pickup, which barely made it through the last snowstorm. Inside on the seat above the rusted-away floorboard is another sign asking, “Is this safe to drive?” Commissioners approved Farm Manager Will DeWitte purchasing a replacement plow truck and sander plus a snowblower to clear the expanded county campus. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
November 10, 2011
OSSIPEE— Handling the pre-Halloween snowstorm with a broken clutch was the last straw and caused county commissioners to vote unanimously to allow the farm manager to order a new truck.

At the Nov. 2 commissioner's meeting, County Farm Manager Will DeWitte spelled out the problems with the 1994 rusted-out pickup truck that carries the sander truck. "The frame is broken so badly that the clutch is not working. So I finally got it started to move it from outside to inside to get it all ready for the storm. I got the truck going and couldn't stop it once it was in gear. I had to stall the truck on purpose so I didn't drive through the wall of the shop. Even when I have the clutch pressed in, it's still in gear and doesn't disengage. This is due to the frame being bent. The sander is not working properly. I was able to get it going barely," said DeWitte.

DeWitte's department is charged with maintaining the grounds for the county complex to include the nursing home, jail, and administration building which also houses the sheriff's department and dispatch center. "This new nursing home is a ton of work," said DeWitte, in reference to keeping the walkways and parking lot clear of snow and ice.

To keep operations going on the 24-hour schedule, including shift changes at the county departments and keeping snow cleared in case ambulances or fire trucks need to get to the complex.

At their meeting last month, the county delegation, which is made up of the 14 Carroll County state representatives and controls the county government purse strings, voted not to take pay for a new truck out of the new nursing home contingency fund. That fund, $120,000, was worked into the total cost to build the new nursing home and is intended to cover equipment and incidentals that are discovered to be necessary that were left out of the regular line-by-line construction budget. The commissioners argued that it should be taken out of that fund because the completion of the new nursing home with the installation of several new parking areas necessitates the need for more snow removal equipment.

Commissioners were chastised for not including the new truck in the 2011-2012 budget and bringing it forward now as an emergency expense.

Commissioners will be asking the delegation to reconsider and allow them to take the money out of the contingency fund. The cost of the half-ton truck, including a plow and sander, is $35,000. Spread out over four annual payments, with $5,000 interest, the total cost will be $40,000. If the delegates do not allow commissioners to take the $35,000 from the contingency fund, they will be putting the $35,000 in the 2012-2013 budget, to save taxpayers the hefty interest payment.

As of Thursday morning, Nov. 3, the rusted out truck was parked on the lawn so visitors to the administration building, including the delegation members on Nov. 14, can see the vehicle and make a decision on whether or not it's good enough to do the job.

The commissioners also authorized DeWitte to purchase a snow blower that he says he needs to avoid shoveling all of the walkways.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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