CANTON, Ohio - Bryon Sharock drives his snow plow truck through ODOT District 4's maintenance building doors Thursday.
It may have been nearing 70 degrees outside, but in a statewide effort by the Ohio Department of Transportation to be ready for snow-covered highways, the crews at this Stark County base were pretty busy Thursday before so much as one flake has yet to fall.
District 4's public information officer, Brent Kovacs, said they actually run maintenance checks often in warm months.
"We're checking our trucks all throughout the summer. But, this is one last time just to double check our trucks before the snow actually starts to fly," said Kovacs.
Sharock has been driving for District 4 for seven years. He's used to long hours during tough winter times.
"It can be heard to be away from the family so long, you know. Sometimes you have to miss holidays, but it's just for a season," said Sharock.
The good news for this district that covers six counties, Stark, Summit, Portage, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Ashtabula, is that a new ODOT-mandated bidding process for salt companies selling to ODOT in 2013 by district as well as individual counties, instead of by all 88 counties individually only saved taxpayers $20,337,220.36 over the former bidding methods in 2011.
State and local government estimates salt purchasing will be for 1,118,004 tons of salt for the 2013-2014 season alone.
Snow plow drivers can be asked to work 12 hour shifts when needed.
Sharock says that all he and his fellow drivers ask is that the public be patient with their efforts.
"We have a lot of roads to cover and while it might seem to that we haven't plowed on heavy snowfall days, we probably have and will be back to clean up the same road later. We just ask that higway drivers let us do our jobs and we'll keep them all safe," added Sharock.