Residents in Boardman, Poland, and the southeast corner of Mahoning County will see an increased response time during winter snow storms this season as the North Lima Outpost has official reopened. The location has been closed for almost seven years.
The outpost used to be a busy facility with six trucks and eight employees working to keep roads clear in the southeast section of the county. On Dec. 31, 2007, the trucks were all parked in the old garage and when driver Randy Kish showed up in the wee hours of the morning, he found a problem.
"I opened the door and reached in to turn the lights on and they weren't working," he said.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
The South Range High School painted plow was rolled in to the new North Lima ODOT facility on Nov. 6. It was the first ODOT truck to enter the facility that will now serve the southeast section of Mahoning County, including Boardman and Poland.
As he moved to the location of his truck, he intended to turn on the vehicle lights to light up the bays for the other drivers coming in. He stumbled in the dark and reached up to open the door of his vehicle and got a hand full of crumbled, charred paint. Overnight the vehicle experienced an electrical fire that damaged several trucks and caused extensive interior damage to the building. The fire had extinguished itself well before any employees, including Kish, had arrived.
Because of the damage, the building had to be torn down. ODOT District 4 moved the crew from North Lima to the Canfield Post, where they have been working out of since the fire.
Kish noted that in 2006, the Sebring Post had a similar issue with a spontaneous electrical fire from one of the plow trucks. Since that one and the North Lima incident, the plow trucks have been equipped with an electrical off switch to prevent another similar incident.
Since the fire, the North Lima crew had been working out of Canfield, which caused a delay in service.
"If we lost a plow bolt on the road in Petersburg, we had to drive all the way back to Canfield, get a new bolt, and head back," Kish said.
Realizing the importance of the North Lima Outpost, ODOT officials made plans to erect a new facility. Work began in the spring of this year with Hummel Construction of Ravenna, given the task to construct a 109-foot by 90-foot building that could comfortably house six trucks. The facility includes a wash bay, a break room, and ample storage space.
The structure was completed this month and the ribbon cutting was held on Wednesday, Nov. 6. It was attended by close to 100 ODOT officials and crew members. Making the trip from Columbus was ODOT Director Jerry Wray.
"This is the fifth facility ribboin cutting I have attended this year," he said. "This new [North Lime] outpost will improve the exceptional level of service delivered during the snow and ice control by the Mahoning County ODOT employees to the motoring public. It is our goal to be the standard of excellence in snow and ice removal and that we keep motorists and business moving safely in Ohio."
The facility's two large salt bins hold close to 4,800 tons of salt and there are four new salt brine tanks installed outside the new building. The salt domes stayed in use for storage over the past seven years.
Trucks from the North Lima Post will take care of portions of I-80, Market Street, Ohio 164, 165, and portions of U.S. 62 and 422. Also included in the coverage are sections of Ohio 170, 193, 617, 625, 630 and 711.
"We cover one-third of the state roads in Mahoning County," Kish said.