It may be hot summer, but Gardner’s public works department is already gearing up for winter snow. The city recently approved the purchase of 800 tons of salt from Rice County, Kan. The salt will be kept covered in the city’s new “salt building.” Photo courtesy of the City of Gardner

What does Gardner have in common with Rice County Kansas?
Well, besides the hot summer weather – salt.
While many area residents are basking in the sun, Gardner’s department of public works just bought more than $42,000 worth of salt – about 800 tons – from Central Salt, Lyons mine, in preparation for next winter.
Salt plays a major role in Rice County with two salt facilities.  Central Salt, Lyons mine, is a mining company distributing rock salt and packaged salt.  North American Salt, a subsidiary of Compass Minerals is a mechanical evaporation and packaging plant.
According to Kansapedia, salt in the central portion of the state is an important sector of the Kansas economy.  At one time, Kansas was a large inland sea, with salt mining occurring in Reno, Rice, Ellsworth and Kingman counties. The Lyons Salt Company operates at a depth of over 1000 feet, and The Hutchinson Salt Company underground mine is more than 600 feet deep.
In the Hutchinson area, one salt mine that is no longer used has been turned into an underground paper storage warehouse and another has become the Kansas Underground Salt Museum.
At the June 20 meeting, the Gardner City Council authorized the purchase of 800 tons of salt for the 2017-2018 winter season. Cost for the 2016-2017 winter was $42,792. Depending on the severity of the winter and the amount of snow versus ice, costs for the upcoming season may be more or less.
The 800 tons of salt will be kept in the city’s new covered salt storage structure at the Public Works Maintenance Facility at 329 Meadowbrook Cir.
And while it’s summer now, winter is just around the corner.
The city currently provides snow removal efforts with a fleet of 11 vehicles. There are four dump trucks that are outfitted with snow plows and material/salt spreaders. These vehicles work primarily on heavily traveled roadways and thoroughfares until the storms have ended and the major roadways and intersections are clear. Crews also operate a fleet of five, one-ton, four-wheel drive pickup trucks with snow plows and salt spreaders. These vehicles are utilized for residential areas that have been broken into control sections for each vehicle.  Finally, there are two four-wheel drive vehicles in the fleet that do not have material/ salt spreaders. These vehicles augment plowing operations whenever needed and extra staffing is available.