GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- Ready or not, it's coming. Local road departments are stocked up on supplies and manpower for the first snow of the season. WZZM 13 found out that a drop in salt prices this winter could lead to improved roads conditions down the line.
While trees are still bursting with fall colors, many people may be trying to forget about winter. However, for Mike Mikita, 2,000 tons of salt in the garage is a constant reminder that winter is soon to come.
"Salt is the main way we get ice off the road," says Mikita, finance director for the Ottawa County Road Commission.
This year the price of salt is down to $48 per ton from $59 in 2012.
If the Ottawa County Road Commission buys the same amount of salt as last year, that's a savings of more than $280,000.
"If you spend less in the winter, there's more available to fix the potholes," says Mikita. "It's a guardrail for the rest of the year."
The Ottawa county Road Commission also added staff this year, from 55 drivers in 2012 to 59 drivers this year. However, at least nine of them don't have any snow plow experience.
It's Scott Powell's job to make sure the new plow drivers get their feet wet. "We'll wait for the first snow and give them on the job training," says Powell, a district supervisor for the Ottawa County Road Commission.
For now, the new drivers are smoothing gravel in the plow trucks for practice.
"I just got done with one of our new guys, teaching him how to scrape gravel roads with a scraper truck, that's the same truck he'll be using on his plow route," says Powell.
Mikita will be closely monitoring the forecast and the roads. He hopes drivers will also pay attention to the plow trucks. "Those first few storms we hope the drivers are aware," says Mikita.
The Ottawa County Road Commission says it still has salt leftover from last winter and officials don't plan on buying new material until November.