It’s a crew of 20, 18 men on the road pushing snow, and two women manning the phones and office

TOP PHOTO: Friday afternoon was a snow plow ride along with Campbell County Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck.

By Jim Freeman

JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – The week’s winter storms and sub-zero temperatures remind Campbell County Road Superintendent Ron Dilbeck of the winter of 2015 when there were three straight weeks of weather similar to this week’s. “Tony Malone (Dilbeck’s right hand man) and I worked 32-straight days,” said Dilbeck.

With 700 miles of county roads and 835 roads to care for, there’s plenty of job security for the highway department. That’s especially true when it comes to pushing snow.

Gary Smith fuels up the Salt Dogg getting ready to head back out. It’s 2pm, and he’s been on the job since 4am.

In his fifth year at the highway department, this is Gary Smith’s last winter; he’s retiring in the spring.

From Memphis to Bristol, the state’s been hit hard with snow, ice and frigid temperatures, and Campbell County’s had more than its share. “It’s been county wide for us and the same for our neighbors at Claiborne and Scott counties,” said Dilbeck.

Chad Irwin’s truck was just loaded with gravel as he and Marvin Seiber, in backhoe, take a second for a photo opp.

The work week started Sunday night and hasn’t slowed much since for those pushing snow and taking calls clocked in at the office. Essentials like salt and gravel and sand have gone fast. “We used more salt, gravel and sand in the first two days of this storm than we did the last two years,” said Dilbeck.

Marvin Seiber points to the big gravel bin at the department’s rock quarry that was full on Sunday. “There were about 10,000 tons of gravel in there just days ago, and we’ve used more than half of that,” said Ron Dilbeck.

Ron Dilbeck points to the bins for gravel, sand and salt behind the shop, the main office for the road department. There were two to three thousand tons of these materials last weekend. “We’ve ordered another 70 tons of salt,” said Dilbeck.

Freddy Blankenblicker is scooping sand.

Over 20 trucks with snow plows, large dump trucks and pick-ups, have really taken a beating. “I’ve already changed my blade once since Sunday night,” said Dilbeck. He adds the plows don’t damage the roads, because they have a spring system that absorbs shock and vibration.

The snow plows are maneuvered with this remote control.

The county roads that are striped have snow plowable reflectors. “The reflectors are made with a slope so the plow jumps over it and doesn’t pull it out of the asphalt.

Ron Dilbeck (left) catches up with Ringo Nolan (outside the truck) who has just come back from working roads at Cove Norris. He’s getting another load of gravel to head back out.

Crew members don’t get a whole lot of sleep as they take turns spelling each other, and Dilbeck is right there with them adding up the work hours. “If they’re working, I’m with ’em. We’re all looking out for each other. It’s a good safety net, because there’s always one of us off in ditch or there’s a tree over a road, and we help each other,” said Dilbeck.

This pushing snow photo was snapped last January 19th.

“We’ll be working Saturday and Sunday,” said Dilbeck as he talked to crew member Ringo Nolan. So for now, the winter of 2024 is leaving it’s own lasting memories as the temps head for 7 above tonight. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/19/2024-5PM)

3 Replies to “Spending the day with Dilbeck and the Salt Doggs”

  1. We all need to say a prayer for all the people that are having to work out in this weather. Let them know that we appreciate everything they do for our county. Lord keep everyone safe. May God bless each one of you.

  2. Great job guys, you’ll never know how much we appreciate all you do! Praying all stay safe and warm

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