COOLVILLE — Monday morning was probably not the best morning Athens County Engineer Jeff Maiden has had recently.
That's because a large piece of equipment owned by the Engineer's office has been taken from where it was parked last Friday, locked and secured, near Coolville.
The machine stolen, a Gradall, is light grey and black, and was stolen from the Athens County Engineer's substation on Vanderhoof Road near Route 50 in Coolville. With a top speed of 45 miles per hour, it doesn't seem likely to have gone far, but the engineer's office has a need of it — and soon. The Gradall also has a large profile, which would also add to the difficulty of hiding it.
Maiden explained that this is the older of the county's two Gradalls, having recently purchased one in 2019. The new machine cost over $400,000 in 2019 — the old Gradall is about 15 years old, but still is used. Maiden said the department uses the older machine as a backup, and has had both out and working in the past few weeks.
"This time of year we're trying to cut our ditches and clean out culverts, so if they fill up with water it doesn't go over the roadways and freeze," Maiden explained. "It's to help with safety."
According to a nearby resident, the press release stated, the Gradall was seen traveling down Vanderhoof Road toward Tuppers Plains at about 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 6. Those keeping an eye out for the machine should look for a license plate number of OK6224.
Gradalls have telescoping, tilting booms that allow for work under trees, bridge signs, ground floors and multi-story buildings that knuckle booms do not fit into. In September, Athens County Engineer Jeff Maiden said the Gradall is one of the most-used pieces of equipment in the department, outpacing even the mowers.
In the summer, the machines are used grading ditches and creating berms for roads, as well as tree trimming.
The Engineer's Office has asked that anyone with information pertinent to the the theft or whereabouts of the vehicle call the Athens County Sheriff's Office at 740-593-6633.