City crews work overtime to clear streets after holiday snow storm
The timing of the recent snowstorm wasn't ideal, but the city of Bemidji was prepared, said City Engineer/Public Works Director Craig Gray.
The Christmas weekend storm brought at least a foot of snow to the Bemidji area.
In the city limits, Gray said snow-plow drivers worked Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
He is estimating that workers put in about 200-250 overtime man hours throughout the four-day weekend. Each person put in about 25 hours of overtime because of the holiday.
In total, Gray thinks the storm will cost about $6,000 or $7,000 in overtime pay.
"The heaviest stuff came on Christmas Day and Saturday," he said.
The Christmas holiday had some workers on vacation, Gray said, but the city saw the storm coming and had workers available to clear the snow.
Workers from the sewer, water and parks departments also helped, he noted.
"Our employees are really good and were willing to come in," he said.
Unlike other storms, the recent snowfall came in waves. Five inches one day, then another 5 inches, then a lull and then another 5 inches.
Gray was pleased to report, too, that not only were the streets plowed, but the windrows - the piles of snow between lanes of traffic downtown - were removed by Sunday morning.
"I'm very pleased," he said of his departments' work. "I was amazed that we got all of the downtown done and hauled away."
Workers also salted and sanded the intersections, he noted, but the main focus was on plowing the roads.
The budget will be fine, Gray said. Overtime budgets were cut earlier this year due to a loss of state aid dollars. And, the winter, thus far, hasn't prompted a need for too many plow outings.
"This is really the first time when we had to work a significant amount on the weekend," Gray said.
He also noted it is the end of the budget year and other budget savings will help cover the overtime pay from the snowstorm.
It was better for the city to have the snowfall over the Christmas holiday rather than the New Year's, Gray said.