City crews work to remove snow after last week’s storm
Public Works Director John Cole provides update on efforts
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
TOMAHAWK – On Thanksgiving morning (Thursday, Nov. 28), City of Tomahawk crews started their day at 3 a.m. to finish clearing the roads and streets after a winter storm dumped over 10 inches of snow on the area earlier in the week.
Public Works Director John Cole provided an update on the snow removal efforts, saying crews sanded the roads and hauled snow away on Friday, Nov. 29, to enable people to get around and do their Black Friday shopping.
“When we have a big storm (say over 10 inches), we use almost all our people and resources to get the snow moved as quickly as possible,” Cole said. “We use eight to 10 crewmen, five patrol trucks, two front end loaders, two one-ton trucks and a Bobcat Tool Cat for sidewalk snow removal. The roads are generally cleared in eight hours, depending on the amount of snow.”
Cole stated the cost for each snowstorm is roughly $4,762.20, with $3,014.40 in wages, $640.00 in fuel, $902.40 in salt and $205.40 in sand.
Crews typically start at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., Cole explained, adding that staggering the start times for City crews helps the snow removal operation run as smoothly as possible, as some work cannot start until parts of the city are plowed. Although City employees can get help from the Water/Wastewater Department employees, who use pickup trucks with plows, the City crews can usually handle the workload of a winter storm, he noted.
“Plowing snow isn’t as easy as people think it is,” Cole said. “The biggest challenge we face is obviously the budget. Safety is our main concern and we monitor the roads 24/7 once snow season is here. We know when we need to plow/salt and sand, but the trick is to get the most bang for the buck. Plowing in the city is very difficult with traffic, pedestrians and the number of obstacles that one faces every time they get behind the wheel. We also have lots of snow to haul after the snow is over, usually the next day or two. Things do go smooth for the most (part), but one can never rule out a breakdown or two. We are very fortunate in the city to have very nice equipment and operators that take care of that equipment. Snow is something that needs to be dealt with and cannot wait. It isn’t like cutting the grass, maybe tomorrow or the next day. If it snows, the public expects the roads to be cleared, even if it is Thanksgiving morning.”
From his standpoint as Public Works Director, Cole said he and the City crews “need to make sure we are being smart about what we are doing; that means financially, professionally and timely,” adding that although sometimes crews might accidentally break mailboxes or fill cleaned driveways on occasion, which leads to angry citizens, he tries to answer all calls with a positive attitude and works to get the problems fixed as soon as possible.
“It won’t ever be perfect, but I think we do a great job for the city,” he said.
Cole asks City residents to be patient as he and his employees do their work after snowstorms hit. He notes that pre-planning can avoid some issues brought on by clearing the streets, such as vehicles that were left on the street overnight being plowed in.
Cole stated he wants to thank all the plow drivers, “not only in the City of Tomahawk, but all the townships, counties etc. I appreciate what you do and know the demands of the job and the responsibility and sacrifice our families make to keep our roads safe.”
“I hope everyone enjoys the new snow, and the next time it snows, do not worry. We are prepared,” Cole said.