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Those who may have been deceived by last season's unusually mild winter got a cold reminder this past month, with snow and cold blanketing the area in frosty white.
This is the time of year when communities hope they are sufficiently stocked with salt, and prepare their snow plows to keep the streets safe for travel.
"We are getting salt delivered right now, as we speak," said Kenny Jacofsky, general superintendent of Twinsburg's Public Works Department, during a Dec. 21 interview.
Jacofsky said he anticipates this winter season to be "more like a normal winter." From December 2015 to April 2016, the city spent $235,932 in salt, using 4,084 tons. These amounts were far below what the city normally spends and uses in salt.
"We've already used just short of 1,500 tons [this season]," Jacofsky said.
This year, from November through Dec. 21, the city has spent $149,840 for salt, Jacofsky said.
During the snowfalls the week of Dec. 12, the city used about 575 tons of salt.
"The rain washed everything away," he said. "And then it froze, so we had to do everything all over again.
The city likes to keep about 800 tons and 1,000 tons of salt on hand at all times.
"Our dome can hold 2,000 tons," Jacofsky said. "Cargill is great to work with. Any time we've used 400, 500 tons, we place an order, and they get more salt to us quickly."
Typically, the city uses 400 pounds of salt per line mile, Jacofsky added.
Both Twinsburg and Reminderville get their salt from Cargill Salt in Cleveland, from salt mines under Whiskey Island, said Sam Scaffide, service director for Reminderville and a Twinsburg Councilor. The communities purchase the salt through the Community University Education Purchasing Association through The University of Akron.
This year's cost for Twinsburg per ton of salt is $54.77, three dollars less than last year. Reminderville also saw a $3 savings, paying $51.47 per ton this year.
Last year, the village ultimately ordered 1,400 tons of salt, Scaffide said.
"Not as much is needed [in the village] as in a larger city," he said.
Jacofsky said that when they get a forecast for snow, they alert their plow drivers. Before going out, the trucks are fueled and checked against a list to make sure they are in good working order.
"We go ahead and call our seasonal snow drivers, make sure they know to come in," said Kyle DiRosa, a snowplow driver and service department employee with Reminderville. "We will make sure the roads are salted beforehand, if it's supposed to really come down."
The city also may pretreat the roads with brine, which makes the salt use go a little further, Jacofsky said.
"We've used 2,400 gallons of brine so far this year," Jacofsky said. "We like to use brine as much as we can."
One ton of salt can make roughly 5,000 gallons of brine, Jacofsky said. The city has the capacity to make and store brine at its Public Works facility.
Jacofsky said that typically, it takes 2 to 3 hours to plow a route. Depending on the amount of snow, the city may use up to 10 plows and routes to handle the snowfall.
However, sometimes things may take longer, Jacofsky said.
"In the last storm, Darrow [Road] was a parking lot," he said. "Our driver was stuck, too. It took 5 to 6 hours to open up things to the way we like it."
Reminderville Mayor Sam Alonso said that the village had about 140 tons of salt left over from last year. The village tries to "stay around the 4,100 [ton] mark" with salt storage, he added. Salt is stored in a shed near the village hall.
Joe Biniak, a snowplow driver and employee with Reminderville's Service Department, said that the village has three, 5-ton plows, a new 2-ton plow and two pickup trucks.
If Reminderville gets 2 to 4 inches of snow, it takes the village about four to six hours to clear the roads, Biniak said.
"If we get ice, it could be more in the six hour range," he said.
What residents can do
Jacofsky said that residents can do themselves a favor and not immediately clean the aprons of their drive, if they can avoid it.
"Wait until you see the plow go by a couple times," he said. "We have to push the snow to the right. It's not something we have control of, we have no choice."
Residents also may have a wait to see a plow on their street, depending on the weather.
"We ask that they be patient," he said.
In addition, Jacofky said that if a driver finds him or herself behind a plow, keep a good distance back.
"Keep about 100 feet back," he said. "Don't block the plow, and slow down. Most accidents are caused by speed."
Another thing residents should do when snow is in the forecast is to park in their driveways, Scaffide said.
"When it is snowing, get the cars out of the street," Scaffide said. "People park on the streets and we have to plow around them. Some residential roads are too narrow for us to go around. We try very hard to not damage a vehicle. I tell the guys if you don't feel comfortable going around a car, if you don't think you can do it, just back up and don't do that road. We won't treat it."
Senior snowplowing service
Both Twinsburg and Reminderville offer services to eligible senior citizens who may need help keeping their drives clear. Seniors can sign up to have someone come out and plow their drive.
Alonso said that the village plows 53 senior residences on average per year.
Village residents older than 65 or those with disabilities who meet income eligibility can be plowed at no cost. Eligible residents can pick up a form at Reminderville Municipal Center. For details, call the municipal center at 330-562-1234.
Twinsburg plows drives for about 277 seniors each snow season, Jacofsky said.
"When we get three inches or more of snow, we will plow," he said. "We do those after the roads are cleared."
Seniors who are wondering if their drives will be plowed can call the snowplow hotline at 330-963-8703 to hear a recorded message of the planned routes, Jacofsky said.
Eligible seniors must be 65 years or older, and must not have anyone at the residence capable of shoveling snow, Jacofsky said.
According to information provided by the city, seniors with a household income of less than $60,000 are charged $50 per year; seniors whose incomes are less than $32,000 qualify at no cost.
Call the Twinsburg Senior Center at 330-963-8722 for more details.