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Adams County Commissioner Kim Fruechte said at Monday's meeting of the commissioner that he has gained a whole new understanding, and much more respect, for what the county highway department drivers do when plowing snow.
Fruechte said he rode five hours with the driver assigned to Blue Creek Township last Thursday as the roads were being cleared after a big snow and ice storm. He said the driver "did a fantastic job" amid "whiteout" weather conditions, frosted-over windows, and various problems faced on the road.
The commissioner cited snow pushed by residents from driveways onto roads, after which the snow hardened so the dump truck and plow were jerked to one side or the other whenever hitting those lumps. At the meeting, ccounty Highway Superintendent Mark Mitchel urged the public to push snow all the way off of roads to avoid potential liability issues.
Fruechte also noted the problem of trucks and trailers parked on roads as people used vehicles from those trailers to clear snow on private property. In blizzard-like conditions, said Fruechte, it's hard to see such things.
He also pointed to Amish people driving horse-drawn buggies. He said he and the driver saw seven such rigs on the roads in Blue Creek and six of the drivers stopped, got out, and held their horse's reins because, as Mitchel said, snowplows really scare horses. Fruechte said the seventh Amish man just sat in the buggy with an umbrella over his head as they drove by.
Speaking of driving by, Fruechte said he was pleased that other drivers waved at the county truck and that the plow driver lifted his blade to stop plowing whenever a vehicle drove by in the other lane. Mitchel said a window in a vehicle once was shattered by flying frozen slush.
The heavy slush, a mix of snow and ice, has done damage to various roadside mailboxes, but none of the boxes has been hit by a truck or a plow blade. The county does not replace any mailboxes damaged by airborne slush or snow, but will replace those hit by a truck or a plow.
Fruechte also said he now knows how grateful the highway department is to local farmers who help by pushing snow back from corners at rural intersections.
He said he was happy to learn that several people on the route of the Blue Creek plow driver offered to let him use their bathrooms on his shift.
The commissioner went to praise the highway department for maintaining good communication with all the drivers.
Finally, although Mitchel said he got telephone calls about the roads, Fruechte and the other two commissioners, Ed Coil and Doug Bauman, said they received no calls last week from the public after that storm. All three thanked Mitchel and his staff for doing a good job.
In a related matter, Mitchel said his staff of plow drivers worked eight hours Saturday after a five-inch-deep snowfall struck that day.
He also said three of the county's vehicles are temporarily out of commission for repairs. Five plows were out of commission recently, he said.