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County replaces 2 aging boats with 1 new boat

With its new boat which arrived earlier this month, San Juan County’s Public Works Department new boat can for the first time carry its own materials, small vehicles, heavy tools and pieces of equipment to projects on the outer islands. The boat, which has not yet been named, replaces two aging boats.

The new 35-foot-craft, built by Munson Boats of Burlington, has 18 feet of clear deck space, a drop front gate and a small crane. 'The three boats Public Works had before this acquisition are all 20-footers, designed as pleasure craft, not work boats,' said county Administrator Pete Rose. 'And the old boats had become unreliable and expensive to maintain."

According to Mike Copas, who is responsible for County's equipment and motor pool, the two boats the new vessel replaces have required a combined total of more than $300,000 in replacement parts and labor since the County acquired them in 1993-94 – nearly as much as the $325,000 purchase price of the new boat.

Acting Public Works Director Russ Harvey says that the new boat will be used primarily to ferry crews and equipment to major projects and for dock and buoy maintenance on the outer islands.

"Until now," Harvey said, "we have not had the capacity to carry even deck planking to repair sites on outer islands. That's often meant we had to wait until we could piggyback on someone else’s barge load."

County Administrator Rose compared the acquisition of the boat to the county’s decision to update its fleet of trucks with so-called "hook-lift trucks" which can be quickly reconfigured for tasks ranging from hauling to sanding and snow plowing. "They’ve allowed us to do a lot more with fewer people and to have less equipment to maintain. Given the county's shrinking financial resources, inefficiency is not an option." Rose said.

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