by Russ Stokes
Don’t let your guard down about COVID-19. Although, our active case count in the city has declined during the past two weeks the virus is still present and the local ER continues to treat COVID patients. We must still adhere to social distancing, wearing masks where required and practicing appropriate hygiene. The cumulative case count for both Fulton and Sharp counties has increased to 1,074 and 1,540 respectively but the rate of increase has lessened. I appreciate the efforts of our local pharmacies in providing vaccine plus doing vaccinations on the weekend; a special thanks to the two pharmacies in our city, Econ-O-Med and Pillbox for their professional dedication during these stressful times.
Last week we experienced a historical winter event with freezing rain followed by heavy snow and freezing temperatures which interrupted our daily lives. Those people who had foresight to plan ahead for this forecast were probably better prepared to deal with the issues at hand. I would caution all to take heed when significant weather extremes are forecasted and not wait until the last minute to have necessary supplies on hand. Additionally, road conditions were hazardous and travel was risky. Having a 4-wheel drive at your disposal was a necessity this past week.
I know there were many complaints about plowing of snow during that week. However, I wish to share some information about our Street Department’s plowing procedures. First, we have 5 trucks available to plow and they are assigned sectors in the city. There first responsibility is to open accesses for first responders and when necessary to provide assist when the responders are answering a call. Thus, more than one plow truck may be called off a route to open a road for an emergency vehicle. Secondly, primary roads which are the most heavily used will be plowed next followed by residential streets. We have 150 miles of streets which have homes on them and another 150 miles that have no structures.
During that week we had two snow falls which required re-plowing of streets. Thus, any headway was lost from the first plowing. The snow conditions for plowing were challenging as it took on the average 30-40 minutes to plow a mile as each mile required a minimum of two passes or more by the plow truck. The department worked 8-9 hours on the days when they could plow; no plowing when it was snowing. Also, we had 3 employees volunteer to work on Saturday to continue plowing. If plowing conditions are ideal with no breakdowns or interruptions it will safely take almost 3 days to plow 150 miles. That week did not lend itself to ideal conditions because of the necessity to re-plow, having to make multiple passes on a road which lengthens the plowing time, equipment breakdowns, and other interruptions. I commend our Street Department for their work placing themselves at risk driving over unplowed roads in order to operate equipment to make our streets accessible plus run a risk while plowing. That week was an unusual winter event but we endured.
At this month’s council meeting the State of the City report was presented. It may be viewed on our city website and if you have any questions please contact City Hall. The council authorized the Street Department to advertise for bids on a skid steer utilizing multiple attachments as well as submit costs for a used dump truck at the March council meeting. They also approved the appointment of Sharon McCullar to the Advertising and Promotions Commission (A&P). Due to Covid-19 attendance at council meetings is limited and attendees are required to be masked and screened upon entry.
As Spring is just around the corner, you may be considering remodeling or other work on your property. Ascertain any contractor you deal with is appropriately licensed for the type of work they are doing. If you need further information, contact our Planning and Zoning (P&Z) office at 257-5522.