By TIM HORAN
Snow removal two days last week cost more money than the previous two years.
Both Dickinson County and the City of Abilene estimated last Wednesday and Thursday were just as costly as 2011 and 2012 combined.
County Manager Brad Homman reported at the Dickinson County Commission meeting Thursday that from January through Feb. 24 the snow removal expenditures were $56,987. The county used 800 tons of salt and 800 tons of sand. Sand and salt cost $24,000. Equipment cost $18,500 and labor was $14,300.
“That’s probably true, because the last two years we haven’t had a lot of snow,” said Abilene City Manager David Dillner.
The city’s snow removal crew was coordinated by Public Works Director Lon Schrader. He estimated that it cost $34,000 for snow removal.
Both city and county crews were ready when the storm hit Wednesday night.
“Our guys on Wednesday went into their snow removal status where they have split shifts,” Homman said. “We sent half of them home who came back at 8 p.m. that night to work a 12-hour shift to cover a 12-hour period.
“We kind of got blind-sided by the heaviness of the snow and the fact that they just couldn’t see very well. They had to back off a little bit and wait for the sun to come up. That put us behind a little bit. The alternative was to have someone involved in an accident,” he said.
“For all practical purposes, things all went very well,” he added. “We did get more e-mail through the site, giving accolades to the crews.”
One person that lived on Mink Road said he had never seen it cleaned as efficiently as it was this year.
“They worked for two days and we were able to send them home Friday afternoon,” Homman said. “They came back on Sunday, mixing salt and sand, getting ready for the storm that was going to come on Monday that fortunately didn’t come.”
In Abilene, the city declared a snow emergency in which cars were not to be parked on emergency snow routes.
“I think it went really well,” Dillner said. “We have gotten a lot of compliments with the clean-up process and the removal.”
He said there were a few complaints.
“That’s normal. We have people that get upset with the fact that we block their driveways, but that’s part of the process,” he said. “The only way not to do that is to not do any removal. If you have a snowplow and you are pushing it, you are going to block the driveway exits. No one has come up with a great idea not to do that, because there isn’t one.
“In a storm like that, what we try to do is hit it and then stay up on it,” Dillner said. “This year we declared an emergency snow situation and that allowed us to get cars off the emergency snow routes and we appreciate the fact that the public was very cooperative. That allowed us to hit those routes pretty consistently during the storm without cars being there with the white out.”
Both city and county crew had trouble with visibility.
“If you can’t see, you can image that if you are pushing snow it’s even more difficult,” Dillner said. “The fact that we didn’t have any vehicles on those roads made it easier to plow and allowed them to plow throughout the duration of the storm, and they can hit one more time and then they could start hitting the residential streets. The residential streets don’t get hit until after the storm and that allows us to focus on the emergency snow routes and make sure they are clean and acceptable.”
“The guys did an excellent job,” Homman said of the county. “There is nothing more white-knuckling than driving a snowplow during a white-out, knowing that you have the $40,000 piece of equipment going down the road and throwing salt and sand out the back. You can’t see very far ahead of you.”
Neither the city or the county reported equipment problems.
During the county commission meeting, Commissioner Lynn Peterson complimented Emergency Management Director Chancy Smith and Homman for their coordinate efforts.
“They were right on top of things that were going on,” Peterson said. “We appreciate that. I think that is something the public will have an appreciation for but maybe isn’t aware of it. It’s one of those behind the scenes, going above and beyond. So thank you, Brad and Chancy, and I’m sure other department people were doing some things we didn’t know about. Lots of kudos for handling the roads.”
Homman said an ambulance had to be towed but it was a censor malfunction and not an accident.
The commission also presented two proposed redistricting maps, redrawing boundaries from which the commissioners are elected. They will be published in Monday’s Reflector-Chronicle.