County roads superintendent: “It’s been never ending, but I think we are now winning” regarding opening roads

YORK COUNTY – “It has been never ending,” York County Highway Superintendent Harvey Keim told the county commissioners Tuesday morning about snow removal in the county. “But now, I think we are winning.”

Rounds of unprecedented snow, high winds and freezing temperatures literally brought Nebraska to its knees these past few weeks, including York County. With all roads completely blocked, the tough challenge was at hand to get 1,100 miles of rural road opened.

Easier said than done. Even with 14 maintainers, trucks with blades, snowblowers, etc., it was a massive task.

York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier said independent contractors were also brought in to help, “which other counties did as well. It was absolutely necessary. This situation was overwhelming and outside help was needed, just like it was in towns, in counties and for the state.”

Obermier estimates the cost of outside contractors, repairs, expenses associated with the last few weeks is likely around $100,000, on top of what was already budgeted as regular county snow removal expense.

“Right now, we have all machines out on the roads,” Keim said Tuesday morning, “with the exception of three that are out for repairs. Otherwise, everything else is out there.”

Keim also said the county road department is currently “almost out of salt and sand, so that will be the next product we will have to be hauling.”

“The public has been very demanding, as they should be, and I think we have responded well,” Obermier said, noting the many, many calls he, the roads department and other county board members have received over this trying time. “I want to say thank you to those who have been out there in those machines in conditions where they probably shouldn’t have been out. They have been out there eight days straight. Also to our law enforcement officers who have been in it too, during conditions that were very dangerous. They all get picked on more than they need to be and we ask everyone to be patient, kind and respectful. They are all working very hard and doing the very, very best they can.”

Obermier also noted numerous circumstances where crews had to help ambulances get to medical emergency situations, they plowed certain stretches of road to help livestock producers, they moved to roads specifically to help elderly individuals with health problems and/or when they lost heat.

“I also want to say that if complaints need to come in, they need to come to us, the board members, and we will extend the information to the roads department,” Obermier said. “As Harvey said, we are now starting to win. I just want to thank them all for the work they have been doing because it hasn’t been easy.”

“We still have closed roads, but we are getting there,” Keim added. “And with the warmer temperatures, we know the roads are now going to get very messy. But we will stay at it.”

“Well, I just wanted to say thank you, publicly,” Obermier said further. “The work continues and we are getting there.”

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