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Putting on the miles

By Staff | Mar 6, 2009

Road maintainer David Koble has driven his share of miles in a 34-year career as a Pierce County road maintainer.

He spent the first 18 years in the Balta area and the past 16 working farther south, in the Selz area.

And fortunately, during his tenure winters like this one have been few and far between, the 62-year-old admits.

“Two others come to mind – 1979 and 1997,” Koble said. “That 1979 winter was especially a bearcat.”

It was snow at the tail end of winter and into early spring that wreaked havoc, clogging roads in the Balta area. The 1997 winter was similar in that the heaviest precipitation came in February, March This winter was a bit different. A large dumping of snow came in early November and then several more significant storms in December and January.

“We got that 20 inches right away, and then we had several eight-, nine- and 10-inch snows that followed,” he said. “It piled up.”

The southern end of the county has been the hardest hit. Koble, along with fellow road maintainer Paul Zeien, who covers the Balta area, have been putting in many long days to keep up with all the snow.

“There was a stretch where I was working several 11-hour days in a row,” he said. “I can handle that now and again, but it does take its toll.”

Koble took several pictures in mid-January when the snow drifts were well over 30 feet high. Windy conditions also caused snow to drift back onto roads.

“There were times when you had to feel your way down the road,” he said.

Fortunately, the weather in February was quiet for the most part, allowing Koble to create ridges in the fields so the snow won’t drift back onto the road.

He credits the type of machinery available today to helping battle Mother Nature. “The machines we use now are like Cadillacs,” he quipped. “They really speed things up.”

They are much different from the two-axle maintainers used 30 years ago which didn’t have automatic shifting. “You had to grab two handles and let go of the steering wheel to shift,” he recalls.

The new units steer electronically, using a joy stick. The only problem is they have so much electronics that sometimes the wires can break or get damaged due to ice.

Koble’s territory includes the townships of Alexanter, Antelope Lake, Hagel, Hillside, Truman, White and the village of Selz. It covers a little over 200 miles.

His days usually start well before dawn. “I generally get two townships done a day,” he said.

Koble has been maintaining roads longer than anyone else in the county and takes great pride in his work. He knows there is a big responsibility in making sure the roads are well-kept.

David Migler, fifth district county commissioner, said Koble’s experience and dedication are an asset to the county. “And that’s really crucial, especially during a winter like this.”

Retirement from his road maintainer job is in the back of Koble’s mind, saying he would like to work three more years.

David and his wife, Elaine, have four sons.

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Putting on the miles

By Staff | Mar 6, 2009

Road maintainer David Koble has driven his share of miles in a 34-year career as a Pierce County road maintainer.

He spent the first 18 years in the Balta area and the past 16 working farther south, in the Selz area.

And fortunately, during his tenure winters like this one have been few and far between, the 62-year-old admits.

“Two others come to mind – 1979 and 1997,” Koble said. “That 1979 winter was especially a bearcat.”

It was snow at the tail end of winter and into early spring that wreaked havoc, clogging roads in the Balta area. The 1997 winter was similar in that the heaviest precipitation came in February, March This winter was a bit different. A large dumping of snow came in early November and then several more significant storms in December and January.

“We got that 20 inches right away, and then we had several eight-, nine- and 10-inch snows that followed,” he said. “It piled up.”

The southern end of the county has been the hardest hit. Koble, along with fellow road maintainer Paul Zeien, who covers the Balta area, have been putting in many long days to keep up with all the snow.

“There was a stretch where I was working several 11-hour days in a row,” he said. “I can handle that now and again, but it does take its toll.”

Koble took several pictures in mid-January when the snow drifts were well over 30 feet high. Windy conditions also caused snow to drift back onto roads.

“There were times when you had to feel your way down the road,” he said.

Fortunately, the weather in February was quiet for the most part, allowing Koble to create ridges in the fields so the snow won’t drift back onto the road.

He credits the type of machinery available today to helping battle Mother Nature. “The machines we use now are like Cadillacs,” he quipped. “They really speed things up.”

They are much different from the two-axle maintainers used 30 years ago which didn’t have automatic shifting. “You had to grab two handles and let go of the steering wheel to shift,” he recalls.

The new units steer electronically, using a joy stick. The only problem is they have so much electronics that sometimes the wires can break or get damaged due to ice.

Koble’s territory includes the townships of Alexanter, Antelope Lake, Hagel, Hillside, Truman, White and the village of Selz. It covers a little over 200 miles.

His days usually start well before dawn. “I generally get two townships done a day,” he said.

Koble has been maintaining roads longer than anyone else in the county and takes great pride in his work. He knows there is a big responsibility in making sure the roads are well-kept.

David Migler, fifth district county commissioner, said Koble’s experience and dedication are an asset to the county. “And that’s really crucial, especially during a winter like this.”

Retirement from his road maintainer job is in the back of Koble’s mind, saying he would like to work three more years.

David and his wife, Elaine, have four sons.

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