Friday, February 07, 2014

17 NorCo Municipalities in "Dire Need" of Road Salt

Hanover Tp salt supply on January 29
Though Winter weather is far from over, 17 Northampton County municipalities have exhausted or are "in dire need of salt." That's what Executive John Brown told Council at their February 6 meeting. He indicated he would be meeting with Emergency Management Services (EMS) officials in the next day to look for a way to solve this crisis.

"Bushkill Township is a mess," remarked Council President Peg Ferraro. "I can verify that." So can everyone living in the Nazareth Area School District. All their schools had to be closed because of the icy roads in Bushkill Township.

Council member Scott Parsons complained that PennDOT, which has a salt supply located just a quarter mile from Pen Argyl Borough Public Works, has refused to share its supply. "The cooperation seems to be lacking," he observed.

This road salt shortage was first reported on this blog last week, nearly a week ahead of the daily newspapers. At that time, Hanover Township had enough road salt for just one pass. Other townships reported similar problems. Winter storms have increased demand. But International Salt, which supplies most Lehigh Valley municipalities, was temporarily closed down as the result of a workplace fatality.

Municipalities muddled through the first snowstorm last week (Feb 3). But right before the second storm (Feb 5), three Northampton County municipalities - Hanover Township, West Easton Borough and Pen Argyl Borough - advised EMS they had run out of salt. Hanover Township declared a state of emergency on February 6, looking for state assistance.

Eleven other municipalities have since followed suit.

These disaster declarations authorize municipal officials to act as necessary to meet the demands of the current situation. They can hire temporary workers, rent equipment and purchase supplies without having to follow procedures established by law.

Director of Emergency Management Services Robert Mateff stated, “Emergency Management officials will continue to advocate vigorously to the State on behalf of municipal needs.”

On Friday, February 7, Mateff made direct contact with International Salt, major supplier to municipalities in the Lehigh Valley. In conjunction with EMS, International is prioritizing deliveries to municipalities with little or no salt. Bushkill Township received an emergency shipment of 100 tons of salt.

He also confirmed that PennDOT has not been sharing its salt supply.

Updated 2/7/14, 2:03 PM, based on additional information received.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Council member Scott Parsons complained that PennDOT, which has a salt supply located just a quarter mile from Pen Argyl Borough Public Works, has refused to share its supply. "The cooperation seems to be lacking," he observed."

Behold, the awesomeness of gubmint!

-Clem

Anonymous said...

This shou7ld be hailed as tea party paradise. Who the Hell needs government, and we certainly don't need them working together, the damn communists!

Anonymous said...

Sounds more like mismanagement of supplies by those very few municipalities. What about all the many many many others in the County? Lehigh, Palmer and so on. They seem to be doing ok. Perhaps those in the lerch need to limit their applications a bit when the supply is low and be more aware of what is going on outside their feefdom?

Anonymous said...

Wait. Municipalities need to run more like a business. What happens when you can't provide a service? You go out of business. Isn't that what the tea party wants?

Anonymous said...

Meeting in the next few days? Norco reached out to us a week ago. Maybe John-John should check with his staff before he says something silly.

Anonymous said...

Parson wants Penn DOT to share, but will be the first guy complaining if PennDOT fails to keep roads under its responsibility clear. A better question is why locals haven't properly managed their supplies, as PennDOT seems to have done. Salt deliveries from the PA state contract (COSTARS) are taking longer than the contracted seven days. Who'd have thought, given the winter the entire country is experiencing?

As for tea party comments, most would agree that road maintenance is an essential service (vs. providing abortions, sex change operations for prison inmates, rehab for countless PA Democrat legislators, and funding of sea turtle masturbation research. The reasons basic services aren't properly delivered is because we waste time and money on non-essential bullshit.

Government that can't properly clear streets of snow shouldn't be given more complicated tasks.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a few township managers didn't have the wisdom or forsight to order enough salt or manage their salt inventories. I keep hearing about the 17 municipalities that were caught short. Who are the smart municipalities that properly managed their inventories over the years and weren't caught short? Bernie, you should write about them. I would love to know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Do you know when the orders must be in for the following year's salt? Do you know how much these municipalities have ordered and just didn't get? You are very quick to blame, of course anonymously, and without any knowledge of the facts.

First, to lock in the price, the orders must be made in February for the following Winter. That's right. So these managers have to judge the following year's Winter a year in advance. How good are you at making those kinds of predictions?

Second, some of the municipalities that are not low or out use a different supplier and pay premium price. You would be the first to anonymously criticize that way of doing business, just as you are the first to criticize municipalities who are trying to deliver services efficiently.

Third, from my survey two weeks ago, all municipalities on the BASD were either at or over budget. Hellertown and L Saucon were in the best shape. I am sure they are now ALL over budget.

Fourth, International had to close down for a federal safety inspection as a result of a fatality at its plant. That complicated matters.

I write about this over a week ago. I could see a crisis was brewing. So could these municipalities. They have been scrambling and doing their best to keep up with a Winter that has been far worse than in recent years. But it is easy to condemn people anonymously.

Anonymous said...

So much easier to just bash "Tea Baggers" ... and it feels so good, too.

Anonymous said...

It looks like Parsons is becoming a target of the Scavello slime machine. Smelley Scavelli doesnt hace anything to campaign on so he goes negative. he opened an office in Bangor, and 2 couple guys sit around trolling the web. Expect more negative cooments from these clowns. SCAVELLO NEVER GOT ONE BILL PASSED IN A DECADE.

Thats right MScavello has a grand total of ZERO bills passed.
The people in his own party are glad to see him go!

Anonymous said...

Maybe if Bushkill didn't spend half their budget on police, they could have budgeted more on salt.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, regarding your 3:00 post. Are you saying only Hellertown and Lower Saucon are the only 2 municipalities out of 17 that got it right in the whole Lehigh Valley? What was their secret? Maybe the other 15 municipal managers could learn from them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No that is not what I am saying. Those are the two municipalities in the Bethlehem area school district that were ahead, but nervous. ReAd my post for details .

Anonymous said...

This is where the Supervisors in communities really need to evaluate their Managers. This is where the rubber actually hits the pavement. Planning and actual tactical use of the salt based on whether or not restocking can occur needs to be taking place. Once out, nothing can be done. I bet that the munis. that have not run out are skimping and only using what they really need at a bare bones minimum. Kudos to them. The ones that ran out.... the management operations need to be seriously evaluated and change made if need be.

Anonymous said...

Seems that there are a lot of dummies here who can't comprehend that a "perfect storm" has occurred during this winter. No one dropped the ball. it has been an intense winter and a major supplier had to shut down.

Hank_Hill

Anonymous said...

Stop bitching. We don't want or need all this government. If I want a road cleared I will clear with my neighbors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hank_Hill, I pretty much agree with you. None of these experts had much to say a week ago, when I first pointed out the problem. The municipalities who were caught low or out did everything right. Had they ordered twice as much as was needed for a typical winter, and had we had a typical winter, the same anonymous assholes who condemned them for running out would be slamming them for wasting taxpayer dollars and having too much on hand. Also, the notion that a municipality should not spread salt is a recipe for disaster. That road salt saves lives. Also, in most townships, the salt decisions are made by the public works people. Those are almost always the most seasoned workers, with years of experience. They are good people who take great pride in their work, as they should.

Anonymous said...

Stop defending poor planning municipalities. Bushkill caused a school district with precious few snow days to close. Bushkill's known for years that they needed more storage. They waste money by bestowing benefits on less than part-time supervisors and have more police vehicles than a Blues Brothers movie (most sit idle at the station). The majority of municipalities planned properly and have not run short. Incompetence is incompetence and it's always painted against the relief of the competent - of which there are far more. Shame on those who ran out. Hat tip to those who properly planned and aren't peddling Bernie's brand of excuses.

Anonymous said...

9:27 Ah, roads are essential. So speaks the tea party. Yes how else would you get to your next posse comitatus meeting and your survival shelter stacked with semi-automatic weapons to fend of the evil government. For the more tame species of wackadoodle how else would the mailman be able to deliver your social security check.

Soon you with have that which you apparently long for. The world of Hobbes inhabited by souls whose lives are short, nasty and brutish.

Anonymous said...

"let us do no harm" - contained in your opening blog statement of purpose.

When did you give up on that policy? This is a public policy question not a personal attack so you will surely post it.

More accurate opening: "Selective harm based on distortion of facts to advance personal grudges of the disbarred one."

You clutter the internet with your vicious hamster droppings that serve no true purpose. Consider that fact. Any purported good you do is outweighed geometrically by the callous harm you cause on a daily basis with this rag. But like all things you are finite and with an ultimate short shelf life.

Anonymous said...

8:14 AM

Wake up on the wrong side of the web, this morning?

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:14 is so full of hatred for me that it makes no difference what i write.

Anonymous said...

Heck, we can't even buy ice melt for the sidewalk. My husband came home with a 25 pound bag of swimming pool salt last week, because it was all that Home Depot had left. It does not work well at extremely low temperatures. A few days later, he went to BJs. As he was going inside, he passed a guy loading a pallet of ice melt into his pickup truck. When he got inside, they told him they had just sold their last bag. Right before these snowstorms began, I could see that the 50 pounds of ice melt we had bought 3 years ago was almost gone, so at that time, we bought another 50 pound bag. The darn thing is all gone, only a month or so after purchase.

Anonymous said...

6:54 p.m.

Perhaps you need an education.

Please tell me how many storms the Lehigh Valley will have in the 14-15 winter season. How many inches of snow? How many ice storms?

Now open a store front in downtown Nazareth and tell fortunes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, municipal managers are at this moment trying to determine what next Winter will be like. They have to lock in prices now for next year's salt. If they can do that, they should move to Vegas .

Anonymous said...

"Please tell me how many storms the Lehigh Valley will have in the 14-15 winter season. How many inches of snow? How many ice storms?"

Ask one of the large majority of municipalities who properly planned and didn't run out. They seem to have a pretty good grasp. Don't ask the incompetents who mismanaged and ran out and left their roads dangerous or caused schools to be closed.

Anonymous said...

"Bushkill caused a school district with precious few snow days to close.

7:32 AM"

I share your frustration, but Bushkill didn't cause the district to close. That one is on the the district. They could have opened, cancelled a few bus routes, not charged absence/tardiness to those students affected, and accommodated them academically after the fact.

But, that would have required a little creative thinking and a little inconvenience of the feeder firsters. Not common here in we-have-to-overbuild-and-over-pay-so-just-give-us-your-money-and-shut-up land. The former stupidintendent's closure policy was to wait and then do what ever Easton did. The new one, a retread run out of Easton and recycled through the I.U., appears to have delegated it to the high school principal.

And for the record, Bernie, I'm not second-guessing the salt buying and forecasting, though they've known for longer than your first post that they were going to need more. I'm just rotflmao at how, when faced with anything where a solution can't be found in current statute or policy, if they don't have bureaucratic rule to follow there is frenzy, confusion and ineptitude in the pen.

-Clem

GW said...

Got to hand it to ya 8:14 am, Your opinion is well written and much more creative than a fuck you.

Guy Williams said...

Thank your lucky stars theirs no way to sue the almighty for all the worlds and personal problems. So lets just sit back and just bitch about everything. Oh and blame Obama and all pols,big government, big business, organized religion,mother in laws,our spouses,our kids and Bernie Ohare.

Bernie O'Hare said...

", I'm not second-guessing the salt buying and forecasting, though they've known for longer than your first post that they were going to need more"

Of course they have, and orders were in for far longer than my post a week ago.

Peter J. Cochran said...

Part of the reason they run out is because they don't have GPS on the trucks like Nashua N.H.See they put down calcium in areas that need it based on temperature gradient from road temperature sensors and based on sunlight and wind. Additionally they don't over spread and supervisors can regulate where they go via computer screen. Saves on OT and fuel and they saved 1 million dollars for the tax payers the first year they employed this system. TEN YEARS AGO!We are behind here again.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie , just came back from Bradford County, Why would someone know you up there?I can't believe it.Anyway, 12 degrees midday yesterday and my firemen pals cut a hole in the ice and went in SWIMMING?They are .......!Well hardy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" just came back from Bradford County, Why would someone know you up there?I can't believe it."

Peter, I spent a wild week up there back in the day. There are probably still some outstanding warrants.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, Bethlehem has GPS tracking on its trucks.

Anonymous said...

You mean John Brown is on it? I feel better already! In the words of the great W "Hell of a job Brownie!"

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto, Mayor of Easton

For the record, we have had ample supply and we lent 100 tons to Palmer Township 2 weeks ago which they have replaced and on Friday I approved lending road salt to the Borough of West Easton. We will always do our best to help our neighbors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sal, you were ahead of the curve on this. I am sure Palmer and West Easton appreciate your spirit of cooperation.

Can I have $10?

Anonymous said...

Munis make a request for state salt through PEMA. They have to prove their need and the state could loan them a limited amount of salt that would be replaced when they receive their own salt. It's not guaranteed as the state needs to keep enough for themselves!