2012-12-28 / Front Page

Snow Removal A Slow, Steady Process For Town And County

Residents Urged To Be Patient Waiting For A Clear Route Of Travel
by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


A view from inside the cab of an Owen County Highway Department pickup truck Thursday morning as it worked to clear rural Hudson Hill Road in Montgomery Township. (Staff Photo) A view from inside the cab of an Owen County Highway Department pickup truck Thursday morning as it worked to clear rural Hudson Hill Road in Montgomery Township. (Staff Photo) A little sweet talk to an Owen County Highway Department Dodge 2500 pickup truck and some smooth steering was all Travis Franklin needed Thursday morning to make his way along a snow-covered Hudson Hill Road.

“I had to go and get one of the EMS trucks and the rescue unit unstuck, then they got me hung up... but we got out. That’s mostly what we did Wednesday in these pickups,” Franklin said. “We worked a lot in the Freedom-Arney area and on Porter Ridge and Addie roads through the night. We made a lot more progress once the snow quit... we don’t do very well when it’s still snowing.”

Tackling Hudson Hill with truck driver Shawn Robertson, Franklin explained the method to the roadway clearing madness following a foot of snowfall Wednesday in much of Owen County.

Travis Franklin of the Owen County Highway Department logged over 36 hours behind the wheel on Wednesday and Thursday working to plow rural county roadways. (Staff Photo) Travis Franklin of the Owen County Highway Department logged over 36 hours behind the wheel on Wednesday and Thursday working to plow rural county roadways. (Staff Photo) “You don’t know where the edge of the road is, you just kind of guess. It’s amazing how we don’t get stuck all the time, but I think every one of us got stuck Wednesday,” he said.

Crews were also dealing with frozen salt and sand mixtures in spreader boxes, making the cleanup of Owen County’s 630 miles of rural roadway a more tedious, slower process.

“I’m probably sitting as good as far as machinery as we can be, but I could use more workers. The biggest thing is this snow is so heavy,” Owen County Highway Department Superintendent Joe Pettijohn said. “Wednesday night I plowed a road that I had to go over a total of four times. It just hangs the trucks up, so you have to skim off of the top, then turn around and go around to go back for another pass. Everybody is just going to have to be a little more patient. We’ll get it cleaned off, it just takes a lot of time to get the job done because there is so much and it’s so heavy.”


Shawn Robertson of the Owen County Highway Department works to plow snow on rural Hudson Hill Road late Thursday morning. (Staff Photo) Shawn Robertson of the Owen County Highway Department works to plow snow on rural Hudson Hill Road late Thursday morning. (Staff Photo) Several workers, Pettijohn noted, had been one the job for 36 hours straight by Thursday morning.

“I’ve set a cot up in my office so they can lay down when they need to,” Pettijohn mentioned. “I’ve got 14 to 16 guys running the roads – we’re getting the main roads, then we’ll get the secondaries. People have to realize that the roads will still be slick, so we’re trying to widened the paths as much as possible and not use as much salt and sand. If I’m pushing snow on a road that’s 10 miles away and use all of my salt and sand, I’ll have to drive back to the garage to get more. I’ve got trucks north, south, east and west, we’re running every pickup, plus our single-axle trucks, a grader and tractor.”


Spencer Street Department workers were busy throughout the day on Thursday working to clear large piles of snow from the downtown area. In the photo above, Roger Freeman (seated inside the dump truck) waits as Tony Floyd loads snow into the dump bed. (Staff Photo) Spencer Street Department workers were busy throughout the day on Thursday working to clear large piles of snow from the downtown area. In the photo above, Roger Freeman (seated inside the dump truck) waits as Tony Floyd loads snow into the dump bed. (Staff Photo) Within the town limits of Spencer, town street department superintendent Larry Parrish and his crew of four workers had cleared the streets and were beginning to remove large amounts of snow from alleyways and snow that had been plowed into large mounds and left to collect near street corners.

“We’re doing the best we can, but there is so much snow we don’t know what to do with it. We’re just running out of room everywhere,” Parrish said Thursday morning. “We worked until almost six at night on Wednesday, but I had gone into work around eight o’clock Christmas night. Tony and Roger are trying to cleanup some of the big piles around the courthouse square. I’m in the John Deere trying to bust alleys open so people can get out of their garages. The other guys are using the plow truck to clear out intersections... we really have more (work) than we can handle.”

The Owen County Board of Commissioners opted Thursday morning to keep the local travel status at Warning level, meaning travel was prohibited until 10:00 that evening. At 10:00 p.m., Owen County moved to Watch level.

Watch level, as outlined by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, is defined as “conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. Only essential travel is recommended (i.e., to and from work, emergency situations, etc.).”

The Owen County Courthouse and Spencer Municipal Building will both scheduled to be open today, Friday, after having been closed Wednesday and Thursday.

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