Thursday, October 23, 2014
   
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City, school ready for first big snow

We all know the glorious and mild fall days we’ve been experiencing the past couple of weeks will not last.

And if you’ve paid attention to what some farmers say about moisture falling 90 days after a summer fog, the first storm of the season may happen on or around Thanksgiving.

City services director Shane Gruber said he’s kept track and thinks the belief holds true.

Regardless of when snow falls this season, city crews start blading streets when at least two inches have fallen.

If it’s a big snow, Gruber said crews begin around 4 a.m. Less snow and/or ice means they’ll just salt and sand intersections.

First on the plow list are streets along the city’s emergency route, followed by downtown, and then residential streets.

Snow is piled at the city airport.

Efficient snow removal

Compared to other towns, Gothenburg often gets high marks for the efficiency and speed at which snow is removed.

Gruber said the crew “gets out there and gets it done.”

In addition, he said all three departments—streets, water and sewer and electrical—work together.

Larger towns often cannot afford, or have the manpower, to do residential streets, he noted, and many city departments are segregated with only the street crew in charge of snow removal.

When asked how the community can help during and after a big snow, Gruber suggested removing vehicles from streets.

Secondly, he asked that residents wait until crews have plowed their street before cleaning driveways.

Better yet, Gruber suggested those using snowblowers to blow snow into their yards instead of onto streets and sidewalks.

School snow policy

Gothenburg Public Schools is ready for the first big snow when it comes to the safety of students.

At Monday’s school board meeting, superintendent Mike Teahon highlighted the school’s snow day philosophy.

Traditionally, the district has school on days with snow unless conditions are extreme.

That’s because a majority of students live in town or within four miles, he said.

“Most of the roads in the valley are in fairly decent condition and road crews tend to start near town and work their way into the country,” Teahon explained. “We also consider the challenges of childcare as businesses rarely close for snow and the majority of parents work outside the home.”

School officials monitor weather conditions throughout the night and begin checking gravel roads, outside of Gothenburg, around 4:30 a.m.

Teahon said road conditions, visibility and windchill are considered when deciding whether or not to close school as well as storm projection information from the National Weather Service.

Parents who live in the country make the final decision on whether they send their children to school because of snow, he said.

Students kept home because of weather are excused with a note or call from a parent.

“If you do not feel your child can get to school safely, keep them home, send them late or bring them in yourself,” Teahon said. “Roads are often icy even when the weather is okay.”

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