After the storm
By Brenda L. Shelkey
It is 6 a.m. the morning after a weekend blizzard that has blown through McLean County for two days. Most people are curled up in a warm bed enjoying an extra hour of sleep. Not so for the McLean County snow removal crew. They are dressed warmly in insulated coveralls, and they are at the county shop, warming up the heavy equipment needed to clear the 1,400 miles of county roads after the area was inundated with six to 12 inches of snow over two weekends of wintery weather. It takes a dedicated crew of 14 men, driving nine motor graders, four snowplow trucks and a large snowblower 10 to 12 hours a day anywhere from two to four days to open all of the gravel roads. After last two weekend storms, even the spare blade was out on the road. County Highway Department Superintendent Ron Wagner has a good crew and a well-thought out system to remove snow after a storm. He knows the type of person it takes to do this job. He has been doing it for the county for 35 years, beginning as a maintenance operator himself. The majority of his road maintenance crew members have been part of the county system for a number of years, ranging in experience from 10 to 25 years, although one has been added within the last year. "They all take the job very seriously," said Wagner. "They work to get the roads cleared as fast and as safely as possible."