February 19, 2009

Snow removal continues to present county problems

At the Feb. 10 meeting of the Oliver County Commission, Oliver County Emergency Manager/Director of Homeland Security Sally Jons presented a letter from the North Dakota Division of Homeland Security informing her that the county still is not eligible for emergency snow removal funding.

Gov. John Hoeven declared a snow emergency for qualified areas of the state on Jan. 23, making $1.5 million available to rural counties and small cities to offset the cost of snow removal and other snow-related emergencies that occurred in the month of January.

Jons said the city of Center and Oliver County are currently applying for assistance.

"According to the North Dakota Weather Service maps that we received, it looks like we meet the criteria, but now the NDDES (North Dakota Department of Emergency Services) is re-evaluating Oliver County," she said. "We have to match the funds we get. We don’t know how much that is yet."

Jons explained that the criteria by which the state agencies determine giving assistance are a challenge to meet.

"Basically, we wait and see what happens," summed up Oliver County Commission Chairman Dwaine Helmers.

County road supervisor Bruce Nelson reported to the commission on his workers’ snow removal efforts. He said that one of the problems they have is property owners pushing snow from their private roads across public roads leaving piles of snow. These snow piles obstruct roadways causing them to get narrower; they cause snow to drift onto the roadway, and they can damage snow removal equipment.

County Auditor Barb Fleming said that a notice has been published twice warning people not to pile up snow adjacent to roadways. Oliver County State’s Attorney Mike Liffrig added that it is against state law to obstruct a roadway.

Commissioner Lee Husfloen suggested sending a letter with the notice and a copy of the state law to property owners Nelson believes should be notified to remove snow piles from alongside roadways. Fleming was asked to send out these materials.

The Weather Network