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Road crew tries to keep up

Press Photo by Linda Sailer Dickinson crews begin the tedious task of picking up truck-loads of snow piled up on city streets on Thursday morning following the snowstorm of Monday and Tuesday.

Over the last few days, residents of Dickinson have dug themselves out of 2 feet of snow that fell Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

While people have struggled to clear their sidewalks and driveways to get out of their homes, many have asked the question, 'what about my street?'

Dickinson resident Wiletta Stoltz wasn't able to leave her home until Thursday afternoon, but said she can't really blame anyone but Mother Nature.

"I think they (the city) do a good job. We can't complain on our street here. They always cleaned it and do the best they can," Stoltz said. "This is more snow than we've had in a long time."

Ken Kussy, Dickinson public works manager for streets, said the clearing of snow during and following a major storm really focuses on a few key areas before moving into the residential areas. In the event that it continues to snow, those areas could be left unattended for a while because the city has a list of streets that are considered "priority" routes that are required to be cleared.

"You have to keep those emergency routes open," Kussy said. "Those emergency routes are your main streets that make sure that the fire and the ambulance and whatever can get around."

The key emergency routes are those that enable access to the hospital and other health centers and all schools, including Dickinson State University.

The streets and avenues that take priority are as follows: Broadway Street, Sims Street, Villard Street, 12th Street, 15th Street, 21st Street 8th Street Southwest, State Avenue, 3rd Avenue West, 8th Avenue West, 9th Avenue Southeast and 10th Avenue East as well as others around the schools.

Kussy doesn't think a lot of people know there are certain routes need to be cleared and the complaints he gets are just part of the job and most people tend to be thankful.

"When you consider the number of people in the community the complaints are pretty minimal," Kussy said. "It's frustrating not just for us, but for everyone who lives here because after awhile it starts to wear on you. You're tired of shoveling your walk, you're tired of your driveway being plugged up and you're tired of the cold.

"That's one of the things about living in North Dakota and we kind of forgot how bad winters can be, we've had such a nice run here, we've had basically 10 years here where we didn't really have a whole lot."

With the high snow accumulations this year, the city hasn't been the only one that's been complained about.

Leonard Schwindt, code enforcement officer in the city engineering department, said they have received some complaints about sidewalks not being cleared.

City ordinance declares home owners must clear the sidewalk on their property within 72 hours of a blizzard.

"Cleared off is making it passable, a safe passageway," Schwindt said.

If the city receives a complaint, which must be issued in writing, they will investigate and determine if it has merit. In the event that it does, the city will clear the sidewalk for the homeowner at $150 an hour.

Schwindt said that in the event that snow removal by the city is necessary, they will provide the home owner with an opportunity to remove the snow if it is able to be done in a timely manner.

The ordinance applies to everyone, Schwindt said, even those who may be away from home in the event of a blizzard.

"There is no exemption. If you do leave you should take measures before you leave to make sure your property is taken care of," Schwindt said.

But be careful where you throw the snow. Throwing it into public streets can result in up to a $500 fine.

When asked why the city plows are allowed to sometimes push a little snow onto private property and not be leveled with a fine, Kussy said it isn't done on purpose and every attempt is made to avoid doing so, but with such high volumes of snow it can be difficult to avoid.

"Our plows do sometimes splash over onto the sidewalks, but we try not to do that," Kussy said.

And despite all the wall of snow blocking her driveway when she finally was able to leave it today Stoltz said she thinks the city crews to an good job.

"You never know what kind of weather you're going to get," Stoltz said. "They do as much as they can.

"I can never really complain. I'm glad I live in Dickinson."