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City crews scramble to remove snow

Just where do you put more than a foot of snow after it falls on city streets?

12/07/16 (Wed)


Massive Snow removal...
Carpio Mayor Kalvin Myers (in the road grader) and public works director Tony Schell, clear snow off First Street in Carpio last Tuesday (Nov. 29) during the season's first winter storm. Exactly a week later, a city crew was at it again, clearing drifts made from the season's first blizzard.


By Marvin Baker

Just where do you put more than a foot of snow after it falls on city streets?

That’s what Rob Shelton, Tony Schell and Gary Rademacher had to figure out following a three-day winter storm last week that dropped between 16 and 18.5 inches of snow in the region.

Kenmare’s official total was 18.5 inches, Carpio had 17 inches and Berthold topped out at 16 inches.

It was a storm not seen in this part of North Dakota in at least a couple of years and city crews began scrambling on Monday morning (Nov. 28) to get the heavy, wet snow off the streets.

Shelton, the public works director in Kenmare, described what was a “pretty tough week,” for him and at least two others pushing snow off the streets.

“We had lots of snow, lots of breakdowns,” Shelton said. “If it wouldn’t have come down like it did, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But it came down so hard.”

From 6 a.m. on Monday until noon, 6 inches had already fallen and the wind was beginning to blow it around and create drifts.

Basically, nature nullified the snow removal in a hurry as additional snow fell and the wind continued while the Kenmare crew cleared emergency routes and the business district.

“The downtown square the next day was unbelievable,” Shelton said. “There were 5- and 6-foot drifts.”

Shelton and his crew spent some long days working through the storm. He said he worked 17 hours on Monday, 19 on Tuesday, 16 on Wednesday, 13 hours each on Thursday and Friday and then 8 hours on Saturday.

Chris Golde and Dale Hanson didn’t put in quite as many hours as Shelton, but he did say he hired a guy for a couple of days to help clear out driveways.

Shelton was removing snow on Monday morning, but that was in part because of another overnight dusting Sunday night into Monday morning.

He said he was worried last Monday where he was going to put all the snow and he’s still worried about where it’s all going to go.

Huge piles have been stacked up on city property and on the end of dead-end streets and he’s running out of room. If anymore than a couple of additional inches fall in the near future, Shelton isn’t sure where he’s going to put it.

This is the first year Shelton has had to deal with such a weather event, recalling that last winter was an easy season compared to what he’s already seen.

In addition, he said he appreciated Dale Hanson’s work on the blade. Hanson retired from the city of Kenmare in July, but said he would work if needed.

“I’m I glad he did,” Shelton said. “Dale helped out a lot.”

Schell, the Carpio public works director, had a similar situation. Although he didn’t put in the number of hours that Shelton did in Kenmare, his work began early on Monday, pushing snow off Carpio’s Main Street.

It didn’t do much good as it just filled back in. By Tuesday, Mayor Kalvin Myers was out with Schell trying to stay ahead of the storm.

Myers and Schell both switched equipment depending on the scenario. Tuesday afternoon they had built up a ridge on Main Street and as Myers pushed snow away from the curb with a small tractor, Schell was picking it up with a payloader and dumping it on vacant properties.

By Wednesday afternoon the streets were open, but not necessarily as wide as they should have been.

“I didn’t put in a whole lot of extra hours,” Schell said. “I worked until I got tired, went home and got a good night’s sleep and was right back at it the next day.”

By Thursday, Schell was ahead of the game and was beginning to widen the streets. By Saturday, Carpio was back to as normal as it could be following a winter storm.

Rademacher, the Berthold public works director, also had a long week trying to stay ahead of the storm.

He began on Main Street, cleared out the path to the school so buses could pass, then started clearing side streets.

Rademacher was still clearing snow as darkness fell on Thursday, but most streets and alleys were passable by that time.

“When it kept snowing, I had at least one lane open so everyone could get out,” Rademacher said. “But it did take a while.”

And like Shelton and Schell, Rademacher found places to put all the snow and is hoping we don’t get a second blast of snow anytime soon.

“You start running out of places to put it,” he said. “And once it’s moved, it gets harder to move.”

Rademacher said he was out at 3:30 on the three mornings of the storm, and worked 15-16 hours each of those days.

“I still need to widen some roads,” he said. “And now that’s it’s getting cold, that will help break up the ice underneath.”

It also took several days to get Donnybrook streets cleared, but the significant situation in that community was that a snow plow got stuck on U.S. Highway 52.

As the plow was clearing snow off the highway, it hit a patch of ice and was unable to move... 

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