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Published: Saturday, 1/11/2014 - Updated: 10 months ago

Monroe County officials admit winter storm plan is needed

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lewis Ave. near W. Sterns Rd. is covered in snow on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Lewis Ave. near W. Sterns Rd. is covered in snow on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.
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MONROE — The consensus of Monroe County officials is that a little planning in advance of the big snowstorm and ensuing bitter cold that paralyzed the county could have saved a lot of headaches.

County officials who met on Friday to review the events of the last week agreed that they should have met and developed a strategy for handling emergency services and snow plowing before the snow struck on Sunday.

A discussion involving county agencies, they said, could have resulted in a decision to issue a travel advisory early in the storm, urging residents to stay off roads and highways. That could have reduced the number of cars and trucks that were abandoned or stuck in snow and drifts, which hindered the county Road Commission’s ability to clear snow from the roads.

Streets were especially rough in Bedford Township, an area that relies exclusively on the Road Commission for snow removal.

Some areas in the township have their tax levies in place to pay for additional removal measures.

“I think communicating and asking people to stay off the road was one of the most important things we could have done,” said Jerry Oley, chairman of the board of commissioners. “The rest of the pieces in the puzzle would have come together.”

Jason Sheppard, a county commissioner elected from Bedford Township, said a meeting of county directors could have avoided many of the problems that occurred over the last six days.

“On Sunday night, we should have been sitting in this room ... putting our heads together to have a model plan on what’s going to happen in the next 24 to 48 hours and working as a team,” Mr. Sheppard said. “If we don’t do that we are going to continue to have problems in the future.”

Other officials attending the meeting in the Central Dispatch Center of South Raisinville Road were Sheriff Dale Malone; Emergency Management Director Mark Hammond; Administrator/​Chief Financial Officer Michael Bosanac; Al Frank, Central Dispatch director; Phil Goldsmith, the county’s legal counsel; Road Commissioners Scott Davidson and Bob Stammer, and Bedford Township Supervisor Greg Stewart.

Mr. Frank said dispatchers had more than 240 requests for tow trucks to pull stuck and abandoned vehicles. However, towing companies, overwhelmed with the demand for their services, couldn’t be reached or stopped responding to calls because they were so busy, Mr. Frank said.

Between 9 and 13 inches of snow fell in the county during the storm from Sunday into early Monday and strong, gusty winds drifted over roadways in the following days.

Besides vehicles stuck on roads, Mr. Pierce said snow removal operations of his department’s 45 drivers and 30 trucks were handcuffed by equipment breakdowns. The road commission contracted with Stoneco, a local quarry operator, to provide assistance.

Many of the officials at the meeting drew comparisons to the cleanup efforts in neighboring Toledo and the city’s Division of Streets, Bridges, and Harbor’s fleet of snow plows and other equipment, which was able to restrict travel and clear the roads faster.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.



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