The good, the bad, the ugly
Sunday, April 07, 2013 10:00 PM
I would like to thank our local leaders for keeping a promise to voters long after the pressure to do so is gone.
I am now going to commit a newspaper sin called "burying the lead." Bear with me, and the real point of this letter will show up in the last few paragraphs. Impatient readers can skip ahead to the humor, and everyone else can read about how happy I am with our local government.
Last year, well before the local primary election, our Montgomery County Commissioners promised to take better care of our county roads. This was of particular interest to me, as I live on 450 South, a gravel road that is poorly maintained in the best of times. There are only four residences on this road, and I know that puts me and my neighbors rather low on the county priority list, but we are all at the top of our own lists, and in previous years that has caused more than a little frustration. Driving on this road can be an ugly experience when a gravel road turns into a muddy mess or a snow-bound and drifted nightmare that makes me long for global warming to kick in.
When it snows, gravel roads are the last to see a snowplow. I know the reasons for that, but in recent years that has driven me quite crazy. There have been days in the winter when, thanks to falling and drifting snow, I could not make it the half-mile to US 231. There have been days in warm and wet months when my gravel road turned into something close to a long, thin mud-bog and I could likewise not make it to the highway in my car - and a couple of times not even in the truck.
But this year, before the primary, I heard our commissioners would actually CARE about roads like mine. I saw several trips down along 450 S by road graders. Gravel came back to the surface each time, and until it washed back out into the mud-bog, my neighbors and I had an easier time getting to and from home each day.
"OK," I thought, "let's see what happens after the primary."
After the primary, the road was graded again and again. Not on a regular basis, but each time it got bad, there would be maintenance within a week.
"OK," I thought, "there is still a general election coming."
That election came and went. And still 450 S is being maintained. After each snow this year my low-priority gravel road was opened within a day of the end of snowfall. One day! I had gotten used to stocking up on supplies and buying gas for my generator in case I was stuck here for several days with no hope of reaching town.
During warm days this winter, the county went so far as to dump several truckloads of new gravel on this occasional mud-bog, making is almost pleasant to drive on . . . at least until the rain and snow returned and all that new gravel disappeared into ruts and holes and long stretches of sloppy mess. It feels like they care that people live here.
Just last week, when we had the largest snowfall of the year, this road was plowed on Monday morning before 8 a.m. Granted, snow was still falling and drifting. It should also be noted that half an hour later the road disappeared again under a think and rolling blanket of white. My nearest neighbor took me to Crawfordsville in a 4-wheel drive vehicle so I could get on with the business that keeps my lights on and my cats fed, but I don't know if even he could have made it without that morning pass by that county vehicle. Also, the county came back later in the day, made another pass, and since the storm was mostly over, the road did stay open.
But that first plow Monday morning scared the hell out of me. And this, dear readers, is my buried lead.
The driver almost snowplowed my garage!
The snowplow was one of those huge trucks with a V-shaped blade used to cut open roads in the worst of what winter can offer. 450 S has two 90-degree turns on the east half between US 231 and 100 E. The plow came from 100 E, made the first corner, then heading north, and came up to the second, to head back west toward 231.
Alas, the driver turned about 100 yards too soon and started plowing snow through the middle of the field east of me, heading in a line that would take him straight into my detached garage. He realized his mistake before hitting the eastern property line, backed up to 450 S, and finished his run without leaving the road again. I took a couple photos with my phone on Monday afternoon and again later in the week. I doubt they will tell the tale well in grayscale newsprint, but maybe Photoshop can help.
Just yesterday yet another road grader ran a few passes down my little county road. Again, my occasional mud-bog is a pleasant drive to and from home.
So I not only want tell our local leadership "thank you," but also that I am deeply impressed to see promises are being kept so long after the election rhetoric is past. Well done.
But please keep your snowplows away from my garage.