It's been a mild winter thus far, but Michael Maher isn't getting his hopes up just yet.

"In the winter, I never make plans," he said.

Maher has been a public-service employee with the city of Powell for 27 years. He and his team are tasked with clearing the city's roads in inclement weather, and he knows it's never safe to make predictions.

"I don't assume anything," he said with a laugh. "I just enjoy the weather."

Powell prides itself on its snow-removal services, of which Maher and his colleagues are the key cogs.

The process begins about 7:30 a.m. on a snowy day, or earlier if a major snowstorm is underway.

Six large trucks -- along with a few pickup trucks with plows, if necessary -- first prioritize Powell's "primary" streets, which include Powell Road, Olentangy Street, Seldom Seen Road and Sawmill Road.

When the primary streets are cleared, teams move on to "collector" streets in neighborhoods, including Ashmoore Drive, Village Club Drive and Olentangy Ridge Place. Clearing those streets allows residents to leave subdivisions.

Finally, with whatever time and resources remain, the team moves on to clearing each roadway and cul-de-sac, a level of work that Maher said isn't a given in most areas.

"We'll do everything," he said. "A lot of cities don't do that."

That strategy has worked for residents, who have come to have high expectations for the city's response to snowy days.

In Powell's 2018's community survey, 91 percent of residents said they were satisfied with the city's snow-removal services, according to city spokeswoman Megan Canavan.

"We have consistently received high marks from our community on snow-removal services," she said. "Since the city began conducting the Community Attitude Survey in 2008, we've always maintained a high satisfaction rate from our residents."

Maher said he's seen few other cities be as efficient with their snow response as Powell.

He said he notices it every time he heads south for home.

"As soon as you come into Columbus, it's totally different," he said. "It's night and day."

Canavan said Powell budgets about $105,000 each year for services, but salt costs can vary greatly.

Over the harsh winter of 2013-14, for instance, the city spent $101,200 on salt. A year later, it spent $35,500.

Although saving some money would be ideal, city officials have said, Powell continues to prioritize clean roads over cutting costs.

"When it's snowing a lot, we don't come home until it's done," Maher said.

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