Thursday, January 10, 2008

Huntsville Town Hotline

In this Hotline:

Town Council Work Session Saturday

The town council will hold a special town council meeting and work session Saturday, January 12, 2007 at 9:00 AM. Click here to view the agenda.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend.

The Perfect Storm and a Snowplowing Update (please share with your spouse and families)

While I have been out of town the past six days, it sounds like Northern Utah has had what may have been the Perfect Storm, lasting several days and throwing many powerful punches.  As sick as it may sound, I feel bad to have missed it and actually enjoy playing in the snow.

Northern California is calling it one of the ten biggest systems in the last fifty years, and as I flew across the country three days ago, the precursor to our Wednesday storm extended solidly from Phoenix to Chicago, and well beyond to both the east and west. I arrived in Chicago within an hour of the powerful system which pounded Wisconsin with Tornado’s and severe thunderstorms. In the meantime, Detroit was experiencing a record high of 68 degrees. This has not been a normal weather year.

As far as Huntsville, one lifelong resident told his kids that this is a once in a lifetime storm, while others have equated it to the big snow years of previous decades. Another said he had to clean his driveway four times on Wednesday alone. Personally, I remember 1973 or 1974 as being the only year Valley Elementary had a snow day during my enrollment, but it sounds like this morning may have rivaled that storm.

So why the long introduction?

It is important we put things in perspective. It is my understanding that many major roads and highways were closed yesterday due to massive snowfall and resultant wrecks, including Highway 89, Interstate 84 and Ogden Canyon, among many others. Additionally, buses could not make it to Weber High School and class became optional to those who could make it. Quite frankly, Northern Utah was "snowed in," and as perfect as Huntsville is, we were not immune.

Most council members received calls yesterday from angry residents who were upset about their road not being plowed or about their driveway being plowed in. Or about being stuck, unable to leave their home. While I won’t try to make excuses, I will try to point out some underlying factors.

Surely, we would all agree that the main roads have to be plowed first and that feeder or side roads may have to be put off until later. And the deeper the snow, the more snow there is to be moved - mass and volume. It will take much longer to plow 18" than it will take to plow 6," as the extra snow has to be moved somewhere.

Sadly, some of that snow will have to end up in the drives of those who have spent all morning shoveling or snowblowing. While the drivers do a fine job of trying to not "bury" your drive, to an extent, it is inevitable and the sad reality of living in our snow town.

Equipment failure

When it rains (or snows), it pours, and we have been plagued with equipment failures. A little over two years ago, the town purchased a used International truck that had been used by the city of Park City to supplement the newer, white Ford truck. Unfortunately, the truck has had problem after problem.

First the brakes, then a hydraulic line, then the brakes again coupled with rust and corrosion issues, and most recently, the truck developed a severe oil leak. While we are trying to get it fixed ASAP (if it is cost effective), we are down to one truck.

Additionally, equipment seems to break at the most inopportune time. While out of town this past Sunday, my wife called to inform me that our personal plow had broken and our drive was snowed in. Invariably and frequently, when snowblowing my walks, the shear pin always seems to shear at the wrong time when half of the job remains.

Well, the town is no different, and on Wednesday afternoon, while down to one truck, the blade on the good truck broke. Our road crew had to stop plowing for a couple of hours to weld and repair the blade, so they could continue their long, grueling and thankless day. Additionally, the truck became stuck in the deep snow on several occasions.

I mentioned putting things into perspective. We are a little spoiled because, for the most part, we are used to dealing with large amounts of snow and have grown to expect it to be whisked away by 10 am. In 1987, while attending college in Prescott, AZ, we received 24" of snow overnight. While not unusual for Prescott to receive snow, the depth was much more than the city could handle and the entire town was shut down for three days. We lived on a secluded, hillside road that was definitely not one of the main thoroughfares. Needless to say, ours was one of the last to be plowed as the main arteries had to be cleared first.

In 1996, I spent November and December in St. Paul, MN. While Minnesota is certainly used to the frigid temperatures and even snow, we were bombarded with 24" overnight. Once again, it took a couple of days for the Twin Cities to dig out.

If you have made it to the end, I thank you. But more importantly, wave and thank the road crew today as they deposit another wind row on your freshly blown drive. They face a monumental task that seems to be never-ending. And know that clearing your road is a top priority.

Most importantly, check on your neighbors and make sure they are okay and not in need of any assistance, supplies or help clearing their drive.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

 Ice Rink

The ice rink is up and running and is in very good shape, especially considering all the snow we have had.  Be sure to get out and enjoy the skating.

That’s all for now, have a great week.


Richard L. Sorensen

Huntsville Town Council Smile