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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Jason Stuart photo

City snow removal focuses on main streets, public spaces

Man Power shortages and machine failures slow progress

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

The snow is still piled deep on a lot of Glendive’s residential streets, but neighborhood streets are likely to stay that way, according to Glendive Public Works Director Jack Rice, who said his department is doing everything they can with the budget, equipment and manpower that they have.

The city has an official snow removal policy which calls for Public Works to focus their efforts on specific arterial streets and areas around public institutions before fanning out into residential areas, Rice said. The policy also provides a specific order for which streets get plowed first.

Rice acknowledged Friday that many residents have voiced anger that their street hasn’t been plowed yet, but noted that he has to follow city policy and that his department simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to plow every street in town.

“We’re getting a lot of calls here at city hall, but we’re just following our city snow removal policy,” Rice said. “Very seldom are we going to be out on side streets picking up snow, that’s just not in the cards. We never do every street, we just don’t have the budget or the time.”

He added that if residents think Public Works crews haven’t been busy trying to clear some of the streets, they’re gravely mistaken.

“We’ve been putting 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. hours in just to try to catch up on this downtown area,” Rice said.

This week, the city’s efforts have been focused on the downtown area. Next week Rice said they will begin working the areas around the schools and Glendive Medical Center. From there, they will “just start fanning out” into residential neighborhoods to remove snow from some of the primary residential streets.

He said he would like to be further along in the snow removal effort, but the timing of the storm falling during the holidays and plain bad luck have slowed them down.

“We’d like to have more done by now, but between guys being out on vacation and equipment breakdowns, it’s slowed us up a bit,” he said.

The city’s snow machine they use to suck up the white stuff broke down on Thursday. While Rice said that hasn’t stopped the process, it’s been a major factor in slowing it down. He’s ordered parts for the machine and hopes to have it running again by next week.

All that snow is being hauled down to a piece of city property near the Dawson Community College baseball fields on South Pearson Avenue. Rice said he has not tried to keep track of the tonnage, though he noted that each of the city’s dump trucks “probably makes 20 trips a day.”

While Rice said he understands if some residents are less than pleased with the city’s snow removal policy, he reiterated that there’s only so much the city has to work with and that the possibility of being snowed in just comes with the territory of living in Montana.

“We just do what we can,” he said. “It’s bad out there, but it’s winter in Montana.”

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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