harding road bridge

This photo taken early Monday afternoon shows the Harding Road bridge over the Auglaize River, just south of the Defiance city limits. It closed Monday for a deck replacement project and is expected to remain so until about mid-August, according to the Defiance County Engineer's Office.

As planned, Defiance County’s Harding Road — just south of Defiance — closed Monday for a major repair.

That issue and other highway-related matters were mentioned by Defiance County Engineer Warren Schlatter during his regular report at county commissioners’ Monday session when they also awarded a contract on a Milford Township road rebuild (see below).

The bridge’s concrete deck will be replaced by Vernon Nagel, Ind., Napoleon, at a cost of $874,235.

The bridge’s superstructure and piers will remain. The project will require the Auglaize River bridge’s closure until approximately mid-August.

Meanwhile, noted Schlatter, beams from the fourth span of Defiance’s Hopkins Street bridge — closed for replacement since mid April — will be removed this week.

He told commissioners this will bring the project past the halfway point. The bridge’s six spans are being removed and replaced one at a time each week.

That crossing over the Auglaize River also is expected through approximately mid-August although the project completion deadline is in October.

Also Monday, commissioners awarded a bid to Anderzack-Pitzen Construction, Inc., Metamora, for the Kramer Road rebuild project, between Ohio 49 and Weber Sand & Gravel’s entrance at Kramer and Casebeer-Miller roads. The contractor’s bid was the only received.

The project cost is $605,441 while the engineer’s estimate was $557,000.

The road’s base will be churned up and reworked with a concrete mix before receiving an asphalt surface while the pavement will be expanded from 16 feet to 24 feet.

The method is cheaper than a complete road reconstruction.

Elsewhere, Schlatter reported that the widening of Hicksville-Edgerton Road, north of Hicksville, began this week. The work began at Buckskin Road, going north, he said.

County crews plan to remove and replace a large culvert on Clemmer Road, south of Hicksville, after completing the widening of a section of Moser Road last week.

Beyond regular updates on highway projects, Schlatter was asked by Commissioner Mick Pocratsky about high gas prices’ potential impact on state gas tax revenues. Gas taxes and license fees provide a huge part of the county’s highway department budget.

Schlatter didn’t say with certainty what he thought the impact might be, but noted that during the “peak” of the COVID situation, revenues fell approximately 10% for about two months when less people were driving.

At least in Defiance County’s case, one option for additional revenue would be the fourth and final increase in license plate fees. Three increases have been enacted over the years while the last one would provide $200,000 annually, he indicated.

However, Schlatter did not recommend the fourth increase, nor is one proposed.

Moving to another topic, commissioners met with Tanya Brunner of the county veterans service office along with Chris Newton, David Lulfs, Thomas Kent, J.D. Grim and Peter Kennerk — veterans service commission members — to discuss agency finances.

As required by law, they presented their proposed 2023 budget which totals approximately $340,00 and relies on a 0.5-mill property tax amount. However, this will be discussed further during the county’s annual budgetary process later this year.

Brunner also mentioned other office funding, noting that Operation K.A.V.I.C. (Keller Assists Veterans in Crisis) received $26,054 for veterans last year while Maumee Valley Guidance Center’s homeless veterans grant provided another $67,949 for county veterans in 2021.

She also informed commissioners that, according to a Veterans Administration report, some $21 million in federal money from the agency was spent in Defiance County in 2021.

Too, Brunner explained that her office filed 157 claims and 71 appeals last year to the Veterans Administration requesting federal funds. And her office helped with 320 healthcare trips throughout the county last year, the majority of the, (57%) to Fort Wayne.

Commissioners also met with Connie Bostelman, Defiance County Child Enforcement Agency director, for an update.

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