January 5, 2017

Continued storms complicate cleanup

By Jerry W. Kram
It is still early in the winter of 2016-17, but it is turning into a memorable one. Like clockwork, storm systems have formed half a world away and found their way to North Dakota with stunning accuracy.
The storms have blanketed the state with near-record amounts of snow – more than four feet in some areas – and the piles of snow around New Town and Parshall are nearing the treetops. Throw in periods of double digit below zero temperatures between storms and you have a challenging environment for city crews to keep their communities functioning.
Crews start work in the dead of night – midnight in Parshall and 3 a.m. in New Town – in order get as much work in as possible when there are the fewest vehicles on the road. Even with the early start, crews in both communities have had to work into the afternoon moving and piling snow to get as much of the city cleared as possible. That means local governments are going to have to foot the bill for overtime.
“We are spending a lot more than we have budgeted,” said Parshall City Auditor Kelly Woessner. “It’s quite substantial when you start paying out the overtime. We are paying a couple thousand a week just in overtime.”
“Some of our guys are starting at three in the morning and working until 4:30 that afternoon,” said New Town auditor Eileen Zahn. “You can’t keep that up. You need to sleep. Our mayor said they aren’t any good if they are so tired they hit something. So they work like that for a few mornings because we are trying to make things work.”
Woessner noted that along with the overtime wages comes additional payroll taxes and Social Security, which adds to the bill.

The Weather Network