Gravel roads in 'OK' condition in HC, says county engineer

Conservation prepares for summer programs

Jake Hotchkiss, Henry County engineer, is “pleasantly surprised” at the condition of gravel roads, while also warning that conditions may worsen with predicted rainfall this week.

Rainfall on Wednesday, March 13, was expected to be between a quarter and a half inch, with more rain expected Thursday, March 14, according to the National Weather Service.

“Gravel roads are getting soft and rutted. I think everybody knows it,” Hotchkiss said during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, March 12. “From what I’m gathering from other counties, I think we’re in better shape than they are.”

Hotchkiss said the Roads Department is doing the best they can, hauling spot rock to various locations last week and frequently checking the status of roads. However, in the next couple weeks, roads will show the affects of a long winter, he said.

Gravel roads protected by trees still have some ice and snow, and shoulders are soft with moisture, an issue Hotchkiss said the department faces every spring.

Wind will help dry roads somewhat, Hotchkiss said positively.

“I don’t want to be doom and gloom. I think (gravel roads) look OK considering the moisture we’ve had,” Hotchkiss said.

Perkins Road, near Lowell, was closed on Monday, March 11, because of flooding. Hotchkiss said the rest of the Skunk River has been OK so far, but again warned that more moisture is coming.

In other news, tree removal will begin near the J20 bridge east of Lowell next week to prepare for June construction. The road will remain open as crews remove trees, but is expected to be closed for construction this summer.

The Henry County Conservation Department is gearing up for their 2019 programs.

Summer camp registration will go live on April 1 at, which can be accessed through

The department is in the process of finishing two new cabins, which should be available to rent in the next few months.

Other programs this summer include programs such as “Beginning to Love Bugs,” “Rocking with Reptiles,” “Dinotopia,” and “Digging Fossils.” There is a fee for these classes.

The conservation board will be reviewing their bylaws at their April meeting. Bylaws currently state that the board must have a president and a vice president appointed annually in June. Each board member is to serve a term.

John Pullis, conservation director, said that a board member does not want to be president, so the board is looking into new ways to elect officers.