According to citizens of the Mt. Wilson area, a Snowcat is needed by the county to be of help to the people in that area when winter snowfalls block the roadways.
A number of citizens from Mt. Wilson attended the board of highway commissioners meeting on Monday in Pioche to express their concerns during the public comment period.
Most of the comments dealt with the deep snow that is making it difficult to get out, but others asked, “What if there is a serious emergency and no one can get out or get in?”
Board chair Varlin Higbee said a Snowcat would be of great benefit, but they are very expensive and the county cannot afford one. In addition, he said, “the road where the people are is private property and the county cannot use their equipment on private property.”
The county does have a documented legal right, Higbee said, to blade the road up to private property, but not any further.
He said some years ago, the county road department did try to widen the two-track loop that goes through the private property there, “but the people there threw a fit over it, threatened to sue the county and everything else.”
Commissioner Paul Donohue added, “To use County equipment on private property would get us in big trouble, but if we did, and as soon as we did, everyone else would want us to come and do their road, too.”
Higbee said winters the past few years have experienced relatively light snowfall, but this year it has been quite heavy, and people are getting snowed in. “But it isn’t up to the county to plow their road or provide equipment, since it is private property.”
Asked about a maintenance agreement between the residents, not all of whom are full-time, and the county, Higbee did not think there was much interest in that.
He said, “The reality of it is that the residents of Mt. Wilson are going to have to buy their own equipment or the county will see if we can get some surplus somewhere and park it out there and let them use it.”
But that might lead to another issue, which he noted, “It might be that a county employee has to run county equipment, so there still a lot of unanswered questions for that area.”
Board members instructed Sheriff Kerry Lee and Emergency Management Director Rick Stever to investigate getting a Snowcat to be used in emergencies and report back to the board either at the next meeting Feb. 20 or in March.