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Local

Lee County to buy its own salt

DIXON —  The Lee County Board voted unanimously Friday morning to give the county engineer permission to buy road salt for the winter.

The emergency meeting was needed after the board received notice that the county’s application through the state to receive bids came up empty.

"The bids were sent out before, but no one bid on it," board Chairman Rick Ketchum said. "If we don't buy salt now, we probably won't get any by this winter."

Lee County Engineer Dave Anderson will buy the salt without getting bids.

"Normally, we'd go through the bid process," Ketchum said. "In the interest of time, we had to give him permission to buy salt if he can find any."

The rapidly shrinking supply of salt nationwide has sent prices skyrocketing. A bad winter means less salt to go around the next winter. It also means a spike in prices for what is available.

Last year, a ton of salt cost the county about $56, Ketchum said. This year, the price of salt will range between $90 and $140 a ton.

The county normally uses between 3,000 and 4,000 tons of salt each year.

"So much salt was used last year, and it's all supply and demand," Ketchum said. "This year, we will use it sparingly and, hopefully, we won't use it as much."

Because of the supply and demand, Anderson said the county will mix the salt with small limestone chips.

"The limestone chips will extend the life of the salt and it will add grit on the roads," Anderson said. "It will provide additional traction in the slippery road conditions."

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