County Road Foreman Recaps Crew's Winter Weather Troubles From Last Week: Foreman Narrowly Escapes Serious Injury In Icy Incident
Road Department Clears Roads In Spite Of Injury, Equipment Breakdown, & More
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
Unless you were somewhere on a Caribbean vacation last week you were probably one of the 12,000 county residents negatively affected by the icy road conditions faced in Edmonson County after two rounds of winter storms.
County road crews began plowing the roads on Friday evening around 5pm and battled slick conditions until daylight, according to County Road Foreman Ray Page during his update at today's fiscal court meeting.
Most are aware that crews worked relentlessly as they chipped away at all 260 miles of county roads, which takes a huge amount of time, effort, and resources; however, Page reported how he and his guys overcame huge adversity that included six incidents of trucks becoming stuck and his own injury of being pinned between a gate a truck that eventually sent him to the hospital, all of which was first discussed publicly at today's meeting.
Page said that around 5pm on Friday, with about an inch of snow on the ground, he arrived at the Road Department garage to unlock the gate as the rest of his crew would be arriving shortly for their marathon of clearing roads. He said that he stopped at the gate entrance, which was about 8 to 10 feet away from the gate on a steep downhill slope, got out and attempted to unlock the gate, secured with a padlock.
He said the padlock was frozen and he had to work to remove the ice from the lock with his back to his truck. That's when he thought he heard someone yell at him and as he looked up the truck slid down the grade and hit Page, pinning him against the gate. The truck hit Page and the gate with enough force that the truck's grill was broken and the hood was bent.
Luckily, Page's wife, Margret, who is also the County Treasurer, was in the passenger's seat and she was able to jump into the driver's side and back the truck off of Page. He eventually unlocked the gate and made it to the shop. Although in pain and not knowing the extent of his injuries, Page went to work with the rest of his crew, due to being short handed.
Over the course of the next several hours, county trucks became stuck six different times, causing Page to have to use one truck to pull out another. Wreckers large enough to pull out the county trucks in icy conditions have to come from Bowling Green and cost anywhere from $750 to $1000 per run, according to Page.
Page said around 9am on Saturday, while still in a great deal of pain, he decided to go to the hospital. He said scans showed that Page had internal bruising but no broken bones. Page said he returned to work on Sunday to discover some severe damage that required around 8 hours of work to their trucks. After that was done, round two of the winter weather arrived.
"The state did a good job of salting the roads, I commend them on a job well done, but they've got the resources to do that. We don't. All we can do is salt the hills, intersections and curves," he said. "When we have ice like we did, we can't scrape that off. Our blades won't cut, it just slides on the ice."
Page also said county crews used 200 tons of salt and placed an order for more. He said the company told them they would give them a 24 hour notice as to when it was going to be delivered, presumably during the time period it was needed; however, the company has yet to contact Page about the order.
Page finished his report by requesting that fiscal court consider the purchase of a used 5-ton wrecker that would eliminate all-day trips around the count, pulling out trucks with other trucks needed for road work. He discussed a place in Memphis, TN that builds the trucks for around $36,000. He said such a truck could be used for other purposes for the county as well.
"I do this for the people, I don't do it for me," said Page. "I try to get the roads clear as quick and efficient as I can. This wrecker won't solve everything, but it will cut our time by a third."
Judge Cannon and the magistrates agreed to let Page check out the truck in person and bring a more detailed report to the next fiscal court meeting.