Usually when I talk about the Linn County Engineering and Secondary Road Department, I talk about the wonderfully diverse prairies they’ve planted in the rights of way. From rattlesnake master to compass plant, from Indian grass to big bluestem, they’ve taken what is so frequently an ecological wasteland and created beautiful, vibrant habitats for songbirds and butterflies.
A week and a half ago, as my car was skittering through the fresh falling snow, I was reminded of a far more basic reason I appreciate the work of the county engineer. The last (and only) time my car drifted off the road in a snowstorm, nothing went seriously wrong. A bit of embarrassment, a 45-minute wait to get yanked back on the road, and that was it. I drove away thinking I was lucky. I was, but only because I live, work and play in a county where the engineer works so diligently to minimize the odds of anything bad happening — even if you lose control of your vehicle and even if you leave the road unexpectedly.
By the time I made it back home from running errands in town, the county crews had the roads plowed clean. Next time you’re driving down the road and get that little spike of adrenaline letting you know that things could have gone very, very wrong, but nothing bad happened, take a minute after you get home to call the county and say thank you.
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