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Public Works tackle snow pile up

By Staff | Feb 5, 2016

Early figures report that history-making winter storm Jonas cost the West Virginia Department of Highways $9 million dollars. The total cost for Shepherdstown isn’t known yet, but Frank Welch, director of Shepherdstown’s Public Works, says he hopes it’s declared a state of emergency by the federal government so that there will be reimbursement money.

“We have a budget based on historical figures,” said Welch, “but nobody budgets for 40 inches of snow. We do have a cushion for major events, but we need to know if we qualify as a county for an emergency situation reimbursement.”

The Public Works crew worked approximately 350 hours of overtime, according to Welch.

“We had three guys who worked from Friday morning (the day the storm started) to Monday at 1 p.m. with very few breaks. They might get to take a 10 minute ‘power nap’ here and there, but nothing significant.”

Welch went on to say that their snow removal plan went into effect the same way it always does.

“I think some people assume that we don’t have a plan, but we definitely have a protocol for taking care of the snow.” he said.

Welch explained that as soon as it starts snowing, the trucks are in the main roads plowing. They give priority to maintaining major thoroughfares for emergency vehicles, and when the snow gets bad, they hope other drivers will stay off the roads if at possible so the plows can do their work. Once the snow stops, they begin the long process of loading up snow and taking it to a dumping location, in this case the Public Works yard.

The department did have to rent one additional piece of equipment–a loader to keep snow piled up after they had dumped it.

“That loader was a tremendous help to us,” said Welch.

When asked if his department had received any complaints, Welch replied, “Not really. I mean, everybody wants their road done, but people understood that this was a lot of snow to move.”

He added, “The citizens here were very cooperative. Most people were out by Sunday clearing sidewalks and around their cars. They didn’t throw the snow in the streets, they carried it by the shovel load out of the way. Everyone works together here.”

As of Tuesday, more than a week after the storm, Welch and his crew were still out hauling snow.

“I really hope not to see any more snow for a while,” Welch laughed.

“I’m ready for Spring.”