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New Maintenance Garage Open

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Shalersville – A ribbon- cutting and open house was held for the new Portage County Water Resources Operations and Maintenance Equipment Garage  on Tuesday, May 24th. The facility is on Infirmary Road in Shalersville at the Water Resources lab location. The building will extend the life of vehicles that had always been parked outside year-round and save on repair costs that can now be done in-house, Water Resources Interim Director Jeff Lonzrick said. Inside storage also provides for regular maintenance of the equipment and vehicles. Large trucks and equipment  in surrounding counties as well as Ravenna and Kent are kept and maintained in-doors.  The county had received a $288,000 federal stimulus fund (American Recovery Reinvestment Act) grant for the construction of the new building, with construction cost to the department of $1.4 million.   No property tax or income tax dollars and no transfers of funds from general government are made into the Water Resources Department. The Water Resources department is not funded by county general fund monies, but by water and sewer user fees for the services it provides, tap fees from new water and sewer connectors and project-specific grants. One of the issues with the diesel engines on the equipment is that they start based upon heat and compression, not plugs, as an ignition source. Therefore when the vehicles were parked outside, the colder it was, the harder starting became which took much longer to get out to work on a problem,  Lonzrick said. The block heaters that diesels are equipped with, in an attempt to keep the block properly warmed and provide a heat source for starting, are not very effective in extreme cold or wind chill situations, he said.  This is eliminated by internal storage at temperatures greater than 58 degrees. Also, diesel fuel is not as refined as gasoline and has tendencies to thicken and gel in cold weather, making starting very difficult until it is warmed up and thinned out.  The valves, hydraulic booms and cylinders, cranes, pumps and electronic controls and air brakes freeze up when left outside. Corrosion and overall deterioration are also due to the freeze and thaw caused by extreme hot operational temperatures and the severe cold external temperatures when cooling, he said. The facility will also have a shop for electrical assembly so more work can be done in-house at a cost savings. It  has 6 truck bays, which are large and high enough to allow for double stacking of vehicles and equipment, making 12 bay areas, and also allowing  room for maintenanceThe department currently maintains 11 wastewater treatment plants in the county, over 100 pump stations, 3 water plants and 2 water booster stations.  Water Resources has a staff of 49 professionals including, biologists, engineers, plant operators, equipment operators, engineering technicians, and administrative staff.