WINSLOW — Paul Fongemie, the Public Works director for Winslow, has about one more load of road salt in the town’s salt shed Monday, and he believes it was enough to handle another round of snow in the forecast, but beyond that he’s not so certain.

Because of delays in delivering salt to Maine from where it’s sourced in the South American country of Chile, some towns may run out of salt in the dead of winter.

“If it continues for another couple weeks, it’s definitely going to be an issue,” Fongemie said.

Winslow Public Works Director Paul Fongemie stands where tons of road salt is usually stored for the spreading over ice and snow-covered roads. Fongemie, shown Monday, said that due to a salt shortage sand only was being loaded into plow trucks in preparation for snow. Enough salt remains for each of the department’s eight trucks to be loaded one more time, according to Fongemie. One part salt is mixed with three parts sand, said Fongemie. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

His department placed an order for salt from Chicago-based Morton Salt on Jan. 30 and the company promised in a statement released Monday that it will replenish one of its two salt storage facilities in Maine by the end of the week.

“Within the last month, customer orders for deicing salt have surged due to the intensity and frequency of consistent winter storms across the region,” the statement said.

Approximately 100 municipalities and colleges in Maine choose a supplier through the Maine Division of Procurement Services’ competitive bidding process, which allows for better pricing, according to Kelsey Goldsmith, director of communications for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which includes the procurement division.


There are two salt suppliers this year: Morton and Bangor-based New England Salt Co. Some towns, like Waterville and Skowhegan, that are supplied by New England Salt Co. say they have plenty in reserve.

Fongemie decided Monday not to wait and placed an order with New England Salt that he was told will be delivered in 24 hours, even though it will cost $20 more per ton.

“I can’t be without salt, the roads need to be safe,” Fongemie said.

The agreement with salt suppliers allows for municipalities to purchase salt from another vendor if there is a “critical need” through a “failure to deliver clause,” Goldsmith said.

The salt shed in Winslow is relatively small, holding eight or nine loads, with each load containing up to 33 tons of salt, often requiring additional orders through the winter, Fongemie said.

The state has been hit by some strong storms over the past few weeks that have included a mix of snow, ice and freezing rain, leading to more salt use.


“We’ve all bought a lot more salt earlier in the season, because we’ve had a lot of rain and snow, and well over 2 feet in the last week,” Fongemie said.

Winslow has $165,000 budgeted for both sand and salt and the town has spent 63% of the budget as of Monday, but is on track to come in under budget, according to Town Manager Erica LaCroix. The town uses about 2,000 tons of salt each year, Fongemie said.

The town of China has used about 15% more salt this year compared to the past three winters, Public Works Manager Shawn Reed said.

Reed said the Maine Department of Transportation, which aids municipalities in supplying salt, is working with Morton Salt to source from another company to deliver the product faster. He said he understands delays in the supply chain but wanted more communication from Morton after orders started going unfilled recently.

“That’s the big thing, not knowing,” Reed said.

Sand is loaded onto a plow truck Monday at the Winslow Public Works yard. The sand is usually mixed with salt to spread over ice- and snow-covered roads, but the town is running low on salt as it awaits a fresh shipment. Other towns in the region are having the same problem. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Richmond and Windsor also are experiencing a delay in receiving shipments from Morton.


Richmond Town Manager Laurisa Loon said Morton has been “great to work with” despite the delays and the town received three loads just in time for the snow that was expected Monday night.

Windsor Town Manager Theresa Haskell said the town received a load of salt Monday but is still three loads behind. She said the town has not been told why orders aren’t being filled on schedule.

Skowhegan Road Commissioner Don Kinney said the town received an order of salt Monday and is well-stocked.

“We’re all good,” he said.

Waterville Public Works Director Matt Skehan said salt was ordered late last week and delivered Monday and New England Salt Co. did not indicate any supply issues.

Kennebec Journal staff writer Emily Duggan contributed to this report.

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