Our view: Road crew needs help quickly 

Published 11:24 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

With snow in the forecast this weekend, the time is long overdue for the Clark County Fiscal Court to take measures to sufficiently staff the county road department. 

For several months the court has been discussing the necessity for more staff to properly care for the county roads, particularly during winter weather when crews are out for 12 or more hours plowing and salting some of the county’s most treacherous roadways. 

The road crew is currently at least four people short and another employee with 29 years experience on the crew just retired. 

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Wednesday Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham asked the court to approve a measure to relax the requirements for the road crew. The court and the road department have discussed removing the requirement of high school diploma or GED for some county positions as a way to fill vacancies, but neither have taken action. 

Branham told the court an applicant with experience related to the job cannot be hired because he does not have a GED. As road supervisor Kevin Wilson told the court previously, none of the duties associated with the job would require a GED or high school diploma. 

The court ultimately voted Wednesday to table the matter until the Dec. 28 meeting, but there is a 90 percent chance of ice and a 30 percent chance of snow Sunday. 

This important public service should have been addressed and handled months ago. 

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Director of Maintenance John Wilcoxson recently said the state is considering changes to clearing rural roads every 16 hours instead every eight hours. 

In Clark County, that would mean roads like White-Conkwright, Flanagan Station, Combs Ferry, Kiddville, Schollsville, Wades Mill, L&E Junction and Ford would see reduced plowing by the state. 

If our county road crew was properly staffed, there would be potential for county roads to get the proper attention. 

It is the court’s responsibility as elected officials to serve the needs of the people. Safe roadways are a basic need.

Our road crews do an excellent job and we commend them for the long hours and effort they put in each winter clearing our roads. But, we can’t expect them to keep up this pace without sufficient help. 

When the City of Winchester faced shortages of paramedics, the Board of Commissioners took quick action to change the pay and adjust the job requirements. This week, five new paramedics were hired and the ambulance service is now fully staffed. 

The fiscal court should take a note from the city and respond to this dire need accordingly.