Council compliments highway department for snow removal efforts

When the department heads spoke at last night’s meeting of the Tyrone Borough Council, highway department head Verden Latchford quoted from Daily Herald General Manager Chris Lash’s column from Friday, February 28.
“It says Local Intelligence by Chris Lash and that could be questionable I guess,” said Latchford. “What he had in here about the borough over PENNDOT street, Pennsylvania Avenue, I guess he got the information from the business people downtown. Tyrone never owned Pennsylvania Avenue. We took it over for one year for plowing and that was it and we turned it back over because it was too expensive. That was the year we had the big snow storm and we lost so much money on the deal we gave it back to PENNDOT after that year. It has always been a PENNDOT street, it was never a borough street. I don’t want to get into the rest of it on the count of it will step on some toes down the street.”
Council member Jim Beckwith spoke up and congratulated the highway department.
“I would like to congratulate Vern and his men of the highway department,” said Beckwith. “We had a heavy downfall of snow and they moved it. Unfortunately, before we could do too much more with it, it froze in place. All the streets in the borough are open. There aren’t many that aren’t plowed wide enough to pass cars on. We have trouble in some places, but that is to be expected. We have some narrow streets.
“As far as Pennsylvania Avenue is concerned, the end is plowed by PENNDOT and the snow was plowed onto the sidewalks by PENNDOT. We have tried in the past, and we will probably try in the future, to try to get that stuff out of there. We have to take care of the rest of the borough before we go downtown and try to get the snow away from the parking meters. The store owners need to help us a little bit.”
Mayor Stoner interjected that the store owners are responsible for their own sidewalks.
“They are responsible for their sidewalks just as you and I are responsible for ours at home,” said Beckwith. “If that means digging a path to the car, it means digging a path.”
Council member Bill Latchford mentioned that Columbia Ancillary Services paid to have someone remove the snow from in front of their business.
“All I am saying I know Vern and his people were out all night, the night of the big snow,” said Beckwith.
“The guys worked 22 hours,” said Mayor Stoner. “When Vern sent them home, the guys from the water department came out and behind them the guys from the sewer treatment plant came out. It was a wonderful kind of thing that has always happened. These guys (the sewer department) came out and cleaned all the storm sewers out and opened the storm drains. It was a great job.”
Beckwith talked about how tough it is to please everyone.
“The one thing I have learned in the many years that I have sat on council and the many years I have served in the fire department and on emergency management is you can’t please everybody. So we don’t really don’t ask them to try. We get the general public moving and we keep them moving. For those people who are unhappy with the service that they are getting, so be it. They don’t need to read that stuff when they are out there doing a good job.”
Mayor Stoner added to Beckwith’s comments.
“One thing that I would like to put into effect and if things would have been different this time is the odd-even thing and declare an emergency. By the time I got around to realizing that I had the authority to declare that emergency, people were already digging out their cars and piling these humongous piles of snow in front of their car and behind the car,” said the mayor. “Our snow plows can’t move those large piles. Once they happen, you have to wait for them to melt down. Once they freeze, which they did, you would have to take a drill in there to get them out. Maybe they could dig their car out and pile it on the edge of the sidewalks it would be easier. You only have to leave three feet of sidewalk for people to walk on and we wouldn’t have the tremendous piles along the highway that we can’t move.”
The Snow Emergency declaration happens at three inches of snow, but needs to be declared by the Mayor and hasn’t been declared during any of the snowfalls this winter.
“We aren’t fortunate enough to live in Indiana or Hollidaysburg where you are the county seat,” said Stoner. “They not only have their municipal plows out but they have the county plows out. They have two teams of plows working in these other communities. The county hauls the snow out for Hollidaysburg. We keep our (borough owned) sidewalks and properties clear. We have someone separately to do that.”
The responsibility of keeping the sidewalks in front of homes and businesses cleared according to the council is that of the individual homeowner or business. Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street is the responsibility of PENNDOT and the borough keeps its sidewalks and streets cleared.