Marysville News

Rough winter drives up salt use, man-hours

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Blasts of frigid air from two polar vortexes and an overall rough winter have kept Marysville street crews busy.

Marysville Public Service Director Michael Andrako said he estimates the city has approximately 1,400 tons of salt in its storage facility.

"We have 500 tons ordered and pending delivery. Our 2014 budget includes funding for the purchase of an additional 800 tons," he said last week.

Compared with last year, the city has spent considerably more hours and spread much more salt to keep roads clear this year.

"So far this season, we have 2,592 man-hours and 2,411 tons of salt. This time last year, we had 588 hours and 870 tons of salt," Andrako said. "It has been a difficult winter in regards to the amount of man-hours needed and salt required to address all the snow and ice events we have had this season."

The city's street department has been pulling workers from other divisions, including water, wastewater and parks, to help clear the roads.

"We are grateful that we have such a dedicated staff to get us through this demanding season," Andrako said.

He said keeping equipment in service has been a challenge.

"We have had a few instances where the components on the plows have malfunctioned. In each case, we pull the faulty equipment out of service and make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible so the unit can be restored to the fleet," he said. "In each case, we were able to use backup equipment from another division to supplement the fleet and keep our drivers clearing the roads of snow and ice."

Andrako said when severe weather hits, U.S. Route 33 is the primary focus for snow and ice removal due to safety, as well as the number of vehicles using that roadway.

Many of the city's major thoroughfares take priority over other streets. Andrako said that includes Fifth Street, Delaware Avenue, state Route 4, Main Street and state Route 31.

"The adjacent streets to the hospital, police, fire and school zones are also given high priority," he said. "We have had the usual number of complaints, but we have also gotten some compliments, as well."

The weather also has taken a toll on people and pets.

Melanie Ziegler, director of marketing, public relations and development at Memorial Hospital of Union County, said the first polar vortex brought one case of frostbite and one case of hypothermia into the emergency room, though no cases were reported at the urgent care. There have since been three more cases of frostbite treated in the ER.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the Union County Emergency Management Agency recorded a low temperature of minus 21 with a wind chill of minus 40 at 7 a.m. As a result, the Union County Chapter of the American Red Cross set up a warming center at the Union County YMCA for residents who had lost power or heat.

Carol Martin, director of shelter operations for the Union County Humane Society, said taking care of outdoor animals is extremely important.

"Most people are trying to care for their pets. Once we get to talk to owners, they take the dog inside. Finally people are learning, maybe because they feel the cold," Martin said. "Most problems are stray cats. We try to help as many as we can, but space and the cost is a big problem here for cats. I try to take the ones in that I can."

Martin suggested that in extreme cold, people can put something outside to keep cats out of the wind. But don't feed them: Once they are fed, they won't leave, she said.

"So just give them a warm box to get out of the weather. If they live outside, they will find food on their own," she said.

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