Say “goodbye” to Countryside Home and “hello” to Jefferson County’s new highway shop. The Jefferson County Board met on Tuesday, Nov. 12, to vote on a number of items, including the projected 2014 budget and the highway shop, which will be built at the location of Countryside Home.
The Jefferson County Board has a number of responsibilities:
- Run circuit courts, which are part of the state government
- Maintain state highways
- Issue state hunting and fishing licenses
- Maintain recreational facilities, such as parks and forests, county highways and nursing homes
The highway shop is the county’s most recent project.
“Highway shop is sort of a done deal,” said John Molinaro, chairman of the Jefferson County Board. “We are presently already contracted and working on dismantling old Countryside.”
Jefferson County added $1.1 million to the bond issue to repay itself for the demolition costs of Countryside Home.
The county is responsible for removing any pollutants on the property, which has had industrial activity for more than 100 years.
Molinaro said the county already has mitigated the exposed ground of the property and has sampled the soil around the facility.
There is still much work to be done.
“We don’t know what’s under the existing buildings,” Molinaro said. “Eventually we’ll have to tear down those buildings and then test the soil beneath the buildings, and if there’s any kind of pollutants in the ground there, we’ll have to mitigate that before we can then put it on the market and sell it to somebody.”
The highway shop will be between 85,000 and 100,000 square feet. There will be a large heated storage unit where snow plows and heavy equipment will be stored overnight.
Molinaro said the heated unit is essential with winter approaching.
“That’s imperative for us because when you’re out plowing roads and it’s twenty below zero and you bring that equipment back into the facility, if you put it in cold storage, the next morning you get up and you can’t run the machinery,” Molinaro said.
Molinaro said about 60 percent of the vehicles will be placed in heated storage. The remaining 40 percent of the vehicles will be placed in cold storage, including equipment that is primarily used during the summer.
The facility also will include a welding shop, a mechanic bay for repairs, office space, salt sheds, storage for materials such as gravel and soil, and a power wash facility.
Molinaro said the power wash facility will save the county a great deal of time and money because it only takes about six minutes to clean vehicles, as opposed to 45 minutes it takes drivers to clean vehicles manually.
The power wash facility also will be available to all other county vehicles from different departments.
Molinaro said the contract to build the new highway shop will be completed by January.
- The reported 2014 tax levy will be $27 million, with more than $80 million in total spending on the budget.
“Human services and the health department, if you want to clump those together, are by far the largest expenses we have,” Molinaro said. Jefferson County makes most of its money from Human Services, the Sherriff’s Department and the Highway Department, which receive huge reimbursements from the state for mandated programs, Molinaro said.
- The County Board passed an amendment that would spend $10,000 on a new disc golf course. Several board members supported the addition of the course in order to make Jefferson County’s park system more appealing to visitors.
- The board also passed an amendment that would spend $40,000 on a new piece of equipment that will keep trails clean for skiing and snowmobiling during the winter.
- The board passed an amendment that would spend $13,000 on a water well in Garman Nature Preserve.