Snow removers working overtime
February 15, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY Increased snow fall this winter has forced Summit County snow plow operators to work overtime to pick up the extra slack. We have had to move to 50-hour work weeks, said Rick Higgins, assistant director of public works for the Town of Frisco. Usually snowfall is spread out between late October through March, but this year 75 percent of the snow has come in December and January.According to Higgins, increased hours on the road puts extra strain on both employees and equipment. On nights with snow, plow operators will begin operations at 2 a.m. ensuring the roads are clear and safe enough for morning traffic. Snowplow operators in Frisco have all their operations timed and down to a science. Normally they aim for an 8-hour work day, but once heavy snows descend on the county, they can find themselves out on the roads for up to 12-hours or more. There are times when it takes everyone from the directors to the mechanics helping out on the equipment when mother nature calls, Higgins said. In the past, snow removal employees have relied on warmer temperature swings to establish some sort of balance between the new snow and snowpack already on the roads. So far this winter there have been very few warm sunny days, which means an increased build up of icy, hard-packed snow on many roads, driveways and sidewalks. We havent had any help from the sunshine this season, said John Polhemus at Summit County Road and Bridge. Ive seen deeper snow in my 34 years with the county but its getting pretty deep.One of the biggest problems facing plow operators this season is the fact that many residents continue to push unwanted driveway snow into the street. Once a plow passes through the street this snow will then pile up on driveway edges making it difficult for motorists to see cars coming in and out of private drives.We push the snow one way and then people go ahead and push it the other way, Higgins said. Pushing more snow in the roads means more hours for plow operators, straining budgets that are already tight to begin with. I do pay the guys overtime and have spent most of my overtime budget already. A couple of grand goes pretty fast, said Pelhemus. A recent batch of snow storms in the area shows that winter is still far from over, but officials are still optimistic that they can end the season with morale still high. Its going to be interesting in the next 60 days, said Higgins. So far its been pretty tough on the guys, and we could certainly use a break.Ashley Dickson can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.