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Gordie Plow busy in communities with ongoing snow removal

Winter woes for community public works crews who have been in non-stop action clearing and removing snow in our communities as a result of unending 'deliveries' from Old Man Winter.

UNITY — November delivered four rounds of winter blasts that started to create hills and mounds of snow accumulation in communities.

Dec. 24-27 delivered two more significant snowfalls enlisting town crews to work over the holidays to keep roads driveable in towns.

Unity Mayor Sharon Del Frari, says, “Our Public Works crew have been steady with our snow removal. There has been an incredible amount of snow before we hit the new year. Staff will continue working until all streets and avenues are clear.”

Mayor Del Frari adds her thankfulness that the town has not experienced a rash of water breaks in this period.

Unity’s town crew and private contractors are able to use the north field to pile excess snow that has resulted in what the mayor refers to as “trucks, trucks and more trucks full of snow.”

The Public Works crew in Unity has been shorthanded and Del Frari says they have borrowed staff from recreation when possible. She commends these employees for not only working short-handed but putting in long hours as well as working through both Christmas and New Years.

“We have tried to keep communication open with our residents, but we did run into some issues with the availability of those who post the communication. Some of this was due to weather and travel conditions. This was a big issue for awhile. Our crew kept on working. Currently, the biggest issue is likely cars parked where they’re clearing. The crew is putting out their signs and posting is up on social media. Residents can help by making sure any neighbours with vehicles parked out front know when to move them,” says Del Frari

“As far as budget, the work has to be done. We’ll adjust accordingly. We thank you all for your patience and support of our crews. Also, a huge thank you to all residents who were out helping when you could. Shovels, snowblowers, tractors and plows were all going steady. We have an incredible community.”

Luseland Mayor Kathy Wurz, says on behalf of her community in response to snow removal, “The significant snowfall has certainly been a cause for increased workload and strain on staff. The town of Luseland has had issues with our full-time staff having to work a significant amount of overtime. Another problem was some vacation that had already been granted, which put us in a position of needing to call in other staff, some of [whom] were retired or past employees to help with the workload.”

Mayor Wurz notes their thankfulness to past municipal foreman, Al Olfert, and Shane Bardick for both helping run the grader and move snow and to Joe Brice and Colin Zimmer, who have come in to run snow blowers and help with other work.”

As other communities have noted, the increased snowfall means time is taken away from other projects and duties that need to be dealt with such as maintenance of the water treatment plant, garbage pick up, water meter reading and other tasks.

Wurz continues saying they have been managing to find places to pile the snow, but this could also become problematic as we are only at the beginning stages of winter.

“A very large hurdle is that town residents must be willing to move vehicles from the parking lanes and off the street to help the efforts of snow removal. We have some residential streets that we never seem to make headway on … they are full of parked vehicles. All-in-all, I am pleased with the efforts that town staff are making. We have not had that amount of snow so early, in many years and it’s easy to get frustrated,  but we are not alone. All communities in the area are struggling with the same issues.”

Wilkie Town Administrator, Lana Gerein, says, “Our community is still removing snow ridges/piles from the snow falls received over Christmas. The Public Works Department has areas in the community where they dump excess snow, using areas that won’t cause issues come spring thaw.

Gerein notes staff were out working on Christmas Day as a result of heavy snowfall that started Dec. 24.

“The sheer amount of snow requires a lot of hauling and we have had many snow events already this year and sometimes are still doing some cleaning and/or removing of snow when the next ones hit.”

Gerein notes they are already slightly over budget for fuel for 2022 and still have December costs to include. Wages remain steady as no additional staff were hired for snow removal, except other projects get pushed aside when snow removal is a priority. The town of Wilkie has yet to analyze the costs of overtime spend on snow removal in 2022.

As with all communities, Gerein mentions that residents are reminded not to push or blade snow into the street or alley. It is also helpful if residents can move their vehicles off the street after a major snowfall. Typically, the town does a pass on all the streets with the grader within 24 hours of a significant amount of snow. Sometimes the grader will leave ridges in driveways that are not left intentionally with staff doing their best to prevent them.

Will winter continue delivering snover-time to our town employees or will Old Man Winter give us a reprieve for now? Stay tuned as Old Man Winter still has three more months to enact his work.

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