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New equipment on the horizon for Dept. of Public Works

MORRIS – The brutal winter has taken its toll on several Morris snow plows.

Jim Gretencord, director of Morris Department of Public Works, said the department is looking to buy some new equipment because it was overworked this year. Specifically, the city needs two dump truck plows, two four-wheel drive pickup trucks with plows and two backhoes, Gretencord said.

“We kind of worked them to death this year,” Gretencord said. “This winter was terrible.”

Grundy County has experienced one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record, and no end is in sight. Up to 10 inches of snow are expected to fall this weekend through the beginning of next week, according to the National Weather Service.

Gretencord said he expected to replace the plows soon because they were several years old, but blamed the arctic conditions for pushing the plows over the edge.

“These were really old and we probably needed to look into updating them anyway,” he said.

The new trucks would be all-weather equipment, Gretencord said, so they could be used as dump trucks or for other purposes during the spring and summer construction months.

The Morris Street and Alley Committee met last week to discuss the potential purchases.

Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said replacing the vehicles could cost as much as $700,000.

“We’re looking to see where we’re at and if there is anything in the existing budget that could be freed up, so we could purchase some this year,” Kopczick said. “If not, we want to see if we could get some next [fiscal] year.”

Kopczick said the City Council will consider ordering the equipment now since it would not come in until after May 1, the beginning of the city’s new fiscal year. The city could adjust the budget accordingly while waiting for the equipment to arrive.

Kopczick said the city will need to purchase new trucks at some point soon because they are in such poor condition.

“We’ve got a lot of machinery and equipment that’s just old,” Kopczick said. “Some trucks are over 25 years old.”

The committee also discussed a request from the Morris Antique Emporium to close down Washington Street between Liberty and Wauponsee streets for a going-out-of-business auction March 30.

The store recently announced its impending closure after 20 years of business. As part of the closure, owners Robert and Elaine Schubert are considering having an outdoor auction to get rid of the extra inventory.

The Morris City Council will vote on the proposed street closure at Monday’s council meeting after tabling the item for further discussion at the last council meeting.

The council had questions about how the auction would work logistically, but the Schuberts had their auctioneer explain the process to the committee on Wednesday.

“The committee has said OK,” Kopczick said. “We understand it, and we would support it.”

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