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Newport Making Plans to Avoid Future Road Salt Shortage

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso was getting in his pick-up truck when he saw a brown paper bag in the bed.

In black marker, someone had written on the bag, "This is for the city to help out". Inside the bag was a container of iodized table salt, a toungue-in-cheek offer of help for the city's salt shortage that emerged during the historic snowfall that hammered the region this winter.

"I took it with a grain of salt," the mayor laughed when presenting the bag at Monday night's city commission meeting.

The city is taking serious steps to address the shortage in future winters, however.

"We had a very treacherous and tough winter. We had the money to get the salt, we just couldn't get the salt," the mayor said. "We contacted any and all suppliers out there. We called Oklahoma and Mississippi. We went all over to see if we could get some salt."

Newport purchases its annual road salt supply based on historic snowfall numbers. This winter caught the city (and other local cities) off guard.

City Commissioner John Hayden suggested Monday that the city should undertake a cost-benefit analysis for the possible construction of a salt dome, perhaps funded through bonds the city issued.

Mayor Peluso also said the city was exploring that possibility. "We are planning to put ourselves in a position that we weren't in this year," Peluso said. In addition to a possible facility that would hold the salt, a pre-treatment spreader may also be purchased. "So, hopefully we won't be in that situation again."

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photo: Mayor Jerry Peluso and the bag of salt offered to him by a cheeky citizen/RCN