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County spends $184,000 on mowers

Let the mowing begin.

Arming themselves to control roadside vegetation after the Board of Island County Commissioners put the kibosh on using chemical herbicides to control weeds, the Public Works Department has purchased four new Ford tractors with mounted shoulder mowers at about $46,000 apiece.

The bill for all four tractors -- $184,062.35 -- is equivalent to the cost of about 5,595 gallons of Round-up Pro, one of the glysophate-based herbicides the county will no longer be using.

In April, Island County Commissioners voted unanimously to discontinue the use of chemical herbicides in the maintenance of county roadways. The no-spray policy does not apply to state highways 20 or 525, which are maintained by the state Department of Transportation.

Island County Engineer Dick Snyder said the new 2002 Ford New Holland tractors, outfitted with heavy-duty, midmount flail mowers, are similar to what other counties are using to control vegetation on road shoulders. He said they are a step up from the shoulder-mowers the county used years back, which he likened to "a kind of Rube Goldberg" contraption.

The flail mowers allow crews to cut weeds without the risk of discharging objects out the side.

The county now has a total of 16 mowers, four at each road maintenance shop.

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