Ice takes toll on local supplies

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — As soon as the ice actually formed on decks and driveways, there was a run on ice-melt at Aubuchon Hardware in Naples.

In fact, before the New Year rolled around, the product was no longer on the shelves.

On Tuesday, the arrival of a delivery truck solved that problem.

“We just got a delivery today. So, we have all kinds of ice-melt: pet-friendly ice-melt, calcium chloride which melts at the lowest temperatures, and tube sand,” Store Manager Dwayne Ball said.

The company’s distribution center is located in Westminster, Mass., which contributed somewhat to the delay of the much-needed delivery. Adverse weather in other parts of New England also played a role in the ice-melt shortage.

Perhaps, some people had stock-piled the wintertime commodity.

Before a predicted storm becomes a reality, are the majority of Mainers prepared?

Ball has had an opportunity to gauge those buying habits, and he said most people try to avoid parting with their money until the weather prediction proves to be true.

“What I have noticed is that most people wait to see what happens. There are a few who are proactive; and the others are waiting until it hits and they need to buy it,” he said.

Besides items like sand and salt, employees found other products to be popular purchases.

“Infrared heaters were a big seller, but that slowed down,” Ball said.

The electric heaters were used to take the edge off when the temperatures plummeted; however, those appliances are useless during a power outage.

“When it was really cold, gas cans were really big” sellers, Ball said.

“Delivery places were so backed up; and people weren’t able to get home heating fuel. So, they were buying gas cans and going to the gas stations to buy home heating fuel from the pump,” he said.

“We were selling a lot of gas cans. But, not so much, as of late,” he said.

While people do pay money for sand and salt to battle the ice, most towns offer free sand to the public.

According to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton, there was a period of time that it was struggle to maintain the sand pile.

“We have had a challenge to keep the sand filled in the small kiosk for the public. We have had trouble keeping it full. At one time, the contractor that supplies sand had three other towns calling for sand,” Morton said.

During the recent Casco Board of Selectmen meeting, he reminded residents that the sand was not for local companies that provide plowing services, and that people are supposed to fill a few buckets per storm, not the entire back of a truck.

Just three months into winter, the Town of Casco’s sand supply has been taxed — running low before it was re-upped, Morton said.

However, the winter road maintenance budget is still within its monetary boundaries for the season, Morton said.

“We have used an incredible amount of sand this year,” he said.

“We put out as much sand during one ice storm as we do during three snow events,” he explained.

“The last two ice storms, we would put sand down, and 20 minutes later it glazed over,” he said.

The town office received a lot of phone calls from residents asking when the plow truck would sand their road, even though it had recently completed that route.

“We are going through a lot of sand and salt, but still within what we anticipated,” he said.

“We will do what we can do to keep traffic moving,” he said.

Morton said that winter road maintenance is within its budget “because we carried some money over” from last year.

Selectman Grant Plummer said it was important to “keep the public aware of how much of the budget we have used.”








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