County road commissioners show off one of three new plow trucks that county crews will be using this winter. The first to arrive is this 2013 Peterbilt. The $238,000 truck features a Monroe Equipment radius dump spreader, underbody scraper front plow and patrol wing. Road Commission crews have been preparing for winter snow plowing duties. Road commissioners are, from left, Dan Germic, Joe Sabol, Charles Battan, Carl Sholander and Ernie Schmidt.
By Mark Lewis
IRON COUNTY—A Bates Township landowner will retain rights to access his family camp by crossing a neighbor’s property after an Iron County Road Commission decision Nov. 13.
The dispute arose after Timothy Meehan installed a gate across Little Finland Road that blocked access to property owned by Glen Meine. Meine had approached the Road Commission in September, contending that because Little Finland Road is public, the gate is illegal and should be removed.
Superintendent Doug Tomasoski researched the issue, looking back to nearly century-old surveys, before concluding that Little Finland Road in fact extends to the center of Bates Township Section 17. The road is seasonal, in some parts overgrown, and lacks a bridge to cross Morrison Creek en route to the Paint River.
According to Road Commission records, there has never been a bridge crossing Morrison Creek. Meine said an informal foot bridge crossed the creek in the past. Tomasoski said the road is within the Road Commission’s jurisdiction despite its condition.
Meehan said his insurance agent had raised liability issues concerning public use of Meehan’s property to access the Paint River. But Road Commission attorney Mark Tousignant said commission ownership of the road would protect the property owner.
Meehan told road commissioners the gate is open.
In other business, Tomasoski told the board that construction projects on the Bates-Amasa Road and Gibbs City Road are nearing an end. Paving and shouldering work on both roads was completed earlier this month. The centerline will be painted during spring 2013.
In Mansfield Township, Wright Road was paved on Oct. 8.
Tomasoski also told commissioners he hopes to receive 2013 project proposals from townships by mid-November.
Road Commission crews are ready for winter, Tomasoski added.
With 16 drivers, 23 trucks, 18 tons of sand and four graders on hand the Road Commission stands ready to keep more than 600 miles of roads clear of snow and ice.
Employees combine factors including weather conditions, weather forecast and the advice of workers patrolling the county to determine when to plow and how much of their workforce to deploy.
The Road Commission received one new plow truck last week. Two more trucks are on order.
“We have 13 people we can put on the road at any one time,” Tomasoski said. “We have four (workers) that go on night patrol and keep up on the conditions around the county.”
The Road Commission is contracted by the state of Michigan to plow and maintain state highways.
According to the County Road Administration of Michigan, it is legal for motorists to pass a snowplow. But officials point out the hazards of blowing snow, varying road conditions and wide plow blades that may make it difficult to see. The administration also recommends people wait until the plows have passed before clearing driveways.
The commission is in the process of hiring three seasonal, full-time snow plow operators plus night patrol drivers.