County officials: Roads will be OK for winter | CraigDailyPress.com

County officials: Roads will be OK for winter

Collin Smith

— The full extent of the County Shop’s fire may not be known for a year or two, Commissioner Tom Gray said.

The County Shop on First Street caught fire when an industrial coffee pot malfunctioned Saturday afternoon. The shop houses county vehicles and other inventory such as road signs.

It’s easy to see damaged paint and the melted plastic on Road and Bridge Department vehicle lights, mirrors and windows, Gray said.

What is more difficult to know is whether the fire’s heat melted or compromised the vehicles’ electric wiring.

“The worst thing would be to have an electrical short in (heavy equipment like a road grader) because you can’t get to it, and you can’t turn the battery off in time,” Gray said. “If one of those ever burns down out in the field, we’ll always wonder if it was because of that fire.”

The bottom line, though, is the county should be able to service roads in the wintertime, Gray said.

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One problem arose Tuesday when a man was driving a pickup from the shop and noticed the vehicle’s dash warning lights come on when he pressed the brakes, said Linda Derose, Road and Bridge manager.

County employees have begun inspecting vehicles that were in the shop during the fire and have yet to find any that are unusable, DeRose said.

The county replaced all the vehicles’ antennas Monday and has been testing radios since then, she added.

She remains confident the county is capable of taking care of its roads. Although some snowplows and road graders can’t be used until their lights and windows are replaced, there are enough usable ones to make a manageable fleet.

“I think we’re going to be fine right now,” DeRose said. “If we had a big snow, we’d be fine.”

Despite the relatively good news concerning the vehicles’ current conditions, keeping their engine blocks from freezing when colder weather hits could be an issue, DeRose said.

The shop lost all of its electricity because the wiring melted together, she said.

Normally, vehicles are stored in the shop and have engine heaters plugged into the outlets there. Without electricity, the county cannot store vehicles in the shop when it freezes.

The county now is looking at temporary alternative storage places, the Road and Bridge manager said.

On the shop’s insurance, the county still is waiting to see what the adjuster from County Technical Insurance will find, DeRose said.

The adjuster inspected vehicles Monday and plans to bring a structural engineer to inspect the site at a later date.

The county is insured for the building and its contents, and the vehicles are insured separately.

Road and Bridge has a list of the shop’s inventory, including the county’s store of road signs, which were all destroyed, and has given that to the insurance company, DeRose said.

Until the insurance agent finishes his report, the county will not know how much it needs to replace.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” DeRose said.

Other action

At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Signed a letter to Brad Petch, senior wildlife conservation biologist for DOW in northwest Colorado, asking him to finalize the Northwest Colorado Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan by the end of 2007. The Commission added its signatures to those of the Northwest Colorado Greater Sage-Grouse Working Group, which includes representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, the state Land Use Board and locals.

The local conservation plan has been in development for about 10 years, and there has been little progress in the past three, said Jeff Comstock, county natural resources director.

The state expects to issue a statewide plan by the end of the year, and although it will defer to local plans, Commissioner Tom Gray expressed concern that a state plan might alter what the local plan would be on its own.

For that reason, the Commission decided it would be best to have a local plan finalized before the state plan is released.