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Plow drivers battled snow, then Arctic cold : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Plow drivers battled snow, then Arctic cold
Oswego, Montgomery officials say public showed patience in storm's aftermath

by John Etheredge

1/9/2014

Heavy snow followed by record low temperatures the last few days kept area snowplow drivers busy attempting to keep streets and highways safe and passable.
Sub-zero temperatures on Monday and Tuesday rendered road salt ineffective, further complicating efforts to clear local streets and making travel dangerous for motorists.
However, Oswego Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes and Montgomery Public Works Director Mike Pubentz said their respective offices had received only a limited number of complaint calls from residents as of Monday morning concerning the condition of local streets.
Oswego Township Highway Commissioner Gary Grosskopf also reported that his office had not received any complaints.
Hughes said, "I think people have been very patient with us knowing that the conditions have been very harsh."
Hughes told the village board Tuesday evening that village plow drivers and support staff have been working continuously since New Year's Eve.
"Our crew has done a phenomenal job and our residents have taken notice. We've gotten a lot of calls and e-mails. They've really reached out to us and said we're doing a good job and our guys appreciate that," she said.
Hughes said a private contractor hired by the village to clear cul-de-sacs has been "working OK" given the conditions. The village has more than 225 cul-de-sacs.
Referring to the private contractor, Hughes said, "Obviously, they have to wait until we get to the street and then they come in behind us. I don't want to say it's slow, but it does take awhile before the cul-de-sacs are done."
In addition, Hughes said, plow drivers do not salt cul-de-sacs and they often remain covered with a thin layer of snow.
"That doesn't mean we haven't been there," she said. "It just doesn't look the same."
In Montgomery, Pubentz estimated that Monday morning he and Gary Beyer, the village's street supervisor, had both taken about six calls each from village residents concerned or upset about the village's snowplowing work.
Pubentz said most of the calls came from people who believed plow drivers had missed their cul-de-sac.
"Our snow and ice removal plan calls for a minimum of one pass on every street, even during a snowstorm, so that's something we have to look into to see why some of these cul-de-sacs didn't at least get one lane cleared," Pubentz said.
He added, "We probably had as many calls Monday about garbage service as we did about snow removal."
Garbage pick-up scheduled for Monday in the village was delayed a day due to the sub-zero temperatures.
Pubentz praised the work of village snowplow drivers.
"It's been challenging and the crew has been worn pretty thin over the past week or two so we're looking forward to a few days where hopefully we won't get any more snow," he said.
Pubentz described the snow storms that have hit the village since New Year's Eve as being "really physically challenging" for the plow drivers who work 12 hours shifts.
"The guys all do a good job trying to get rest between shifts, but a person's schedule gets thrown off and it takes a toll after awhile both for the driver and their families," he said.
Pubentz noted that two drivers were also out sick over the weekend, which posed a further challenge for his crew.
Hughes compared the work put in by Oswego plow drivers over the past several days to a college student cramming for final exams.
"Right before final exams you have a lot of late night studying, trying to cram everything in and you're hoping when you take that final exam you'll be done. Well, we're hoping the weather will break enough now in the next few days so all this cramming work we've put in will be done," Hughes said.
Grosskopf said Monday morning he hadn't received any calls from residents concerning the township's snow plowing. The highway department is responsible for plowing township-owned highways and streets in unincorporated subdivisions, including Boulder Hill.
"I think people are pretty much understanding of the situation that we've been facing with the severe weather," he said.
Grosskopf added that he is always concerned that his eight drivers have enough rest.
"Once we get everything cleaned up from a storm like we had over the weekend, we run shifts with our guys, taking turns going out and hitting the drifts," he said.
Grosskopf noted snowplow trucks have also improved over the past several years.
"The equipment now is much better built than it used to be," he said, adding, "It's warmer in the cabs and we don't have issues with vehicles freezing up like we had in the past."

Grosskopf: 'All-in-all'
it wasn't too bad
All three officials said the snow and cold over the past week presented a challenge to their departments, but was different and generally less severe than the blizzard of 2011.
Hughes began work with Oswego in November. In 2011 she was serving as public works director for the Village of Lincolnshire in north suburban Lake County.
"There is a lot less snow this time than in the 2011 blizzard," Hughes said, adding, "The drifting here has occurred over a longer period. During the 2011 blizzard the drifting we had up in Lake County occurred during the blizzard. Once the storm was over we didn't get the drifting like we are continuing to get now. So during the blizzard we were able to concentrate our snow removal operations over a shorter period of time-though the days were very long. Once we were done, we were done for a week. Here as soon as we're done we're having to go out and hit our main streets again, especially those streets out on the edge of the village because they are just getting drifted over again. So we've had to spread out our operations a lot longer than during the blizzard."
Grosskopf agreed this weekend's storm wasn't anywhere near the blizzard of 2011.
"This (storm over the weekend) wasn't anywhere near what that one (the 2011 blizzard) was, in my opinion. We didn't have nearly as much snow which helped with the drifting situation, obviously," Grosskopf said, adding, "All-in-all, it wasn't too bad. I saw a lot of people driving around still (this week)."

Schools, KATS shut
down due to weather
In other storm-related news, the Oswego School District canceled a teacher-in service day scheduled for Monday and classes were also canceled on Tuesday due to the extreme cold. The schools were re-opened on Wednesday.
Kendall Area Transit (KAT) , the county's public bus service, halted operations due to weather conditions on Monday, but resumed full service Tuesday afternoon. KAT provides dial-a-ride transportation services throughout Kendall County and bus service to the Village of Oswego's Metra Park-n-Ride lot at the northwest corner of Orchard Road and Mill Road.

Oswego Village Board
trims meeting agenda
The Oswego Village Board removed two items from the agenda of its meeting Tuesday evening due to "inclement weather and travel complications" according to a statement issued by the village Tuesday afternoon.
The items taken off the agenda were an update on the Morris Property, a mixed use development proposed along the west side of Orchard Road and a Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency marketing study of the village.
The two items will be added to a future board meeting agenda. Anyone with questions can contact the village at 630-554-3618.

Main break at OHS
Oswego Fire Protection District firefighters were summoned to Oswego High School at approximately 6:40 a.m. Wednesday on a report of a broken water main.




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