Snow puts ice on city budgets

Friday, February 28, 2003

Winter's wicked blast has taken its toll on city budgets, as crews put in overtime hours to keep roadways passable.

While the job at hand has been taxing, all county departments report a good supply of salt and gravel to continue the effort.

The rounds of storms began rolling in on Sunday, first blanketing the area with six or more inches. Additional snowfalls, plus sleet and freezing rain, put an additional burden on snow-removal efforts.

In Eureka Springs, as in other areas, crews hit the streets on Sunday, plowing roadways and spreading a salt/gravel mix.

By midweek, crews were limiting their distribution of the mix, so it wouldn't get buried under the next round of frozen precipitation.

"We're using the gravel sparingly," reported public works foreman James Clark on Wednesday. "With another storm coming, it may get covered up again."

He said the supplies, equipment, and crews were holding up well.

"We haven't had to work around the clock," he explained. "We've been able to work during daylight hours."

Another 80 tons of gravel was delivered on Tuesday to restock depleted supplies, he said, and a delivery of salt was expected any time.

Some minor equipment breakdowns were reported.

"With any seasonal equipment, you're going to have minor breakdowns," Clark said.

Besides the expense of repairs, gravel and salt, the department has racked up some overtime hours as well.

"We have accumulated some overtime hours," Clark confirmed. "But, all in all, we're in good shape."

In Berryville, public works director Dwayne Allen said crews were "good to go."

"We're well stocked on salt and gravel," he reported.

However, Allen noted that the plowing crew was "getting cranky."

"We plowed on Sunday, then with the refreeze and cold temperatures, we could hardly plow. Plus, we've had some snow plow repair and we've gone through several blades."

Allen said the snow pack and ice is tough on blades because of the close proximity to pavement. He said they are stocked up on blades, and the six-man plowing crew will continue to rotate hours to get the job done, using the city's two plows and one grader.

In December, the city hired Jimmy Jones Excavation to help with snow removal. This time, the crews will handle the job themselves.

"We won't use Jimmy Jones unless we get behind," Allen said. "So far, we're doing okay."

In Green Forest, city water department supervisor Steve Patton said the city crews have been clearing streets using two snow plows, two backhoes, and pickups with mounted spreaders to distribute a salt/gravel mix.

"We buy the salt by the pallet and pick up the gravel at Carroll County Stone," he said.

Crew members have accumulated some overtime hours. "It's not a problem, as yet," said Patton.

County road crews don't collect overtime pay. Instead, they take compensatory time on slow days, County Judge Ed Robertson reported.

"Our only added expense is extra salt and chat, which is not terribly expensive," he said, "and, additional fuel to run plows during the night."

Not all plows can run at night he noted, because some of the older models don't have lights.

"We're limited, but we're running what we can, and getting compliments," Robertson stated.

He said the county is in good shape, as far as supplies are concerned.

"We mix the salt with the chat for traction," he explained. "We're okay. We bought enough, and we can buy more. There is no problem with delivery."

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