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Praise, criticism given Lehighton borough crew on handling snow

Published February 24. 2010 05:00PM

Both praise and criticism were given to the Lehighton borough workers regarding their handling of the huge snowstorm that occurred Feb. 16. During that storm, 18 inches of snow fell in the borough.

Chief of Police Matthew Bender and councilman Scott Rehrig were happy with how the street crew managed the accumulating snow.

Fire Chief John Kuller, on the other hand, complained that at least one street was impassable and the workers were slow in clearing the snow from the fire house.

He said it's the first time in his over 30 years in the fire service that "I feel we could not have protected the town."

He labeled the work by the borough crew, "absolutely horrendous."

"I feel this was the worse condition of the streets I ever saw," the fire chief said. "Fourth Street was impassable 24 hours after the storm."

Mayor Donald Rehrig said that at one point there was a fire call on the day of the storm. He lives near the fire station so he took his personal snow blower to the building and utilized it so the apparatus could safely exit the station and respond to the alarm.

"I was out with my snowblower because the fire department was getting ready to go out on a call," the mayor said, adding that some firefighters had begun shoveling in front of the station by hand.

It was explained by Kuller that the fire call was "a minor incident."

Council members agreed that priority must be given to clearing the fire stations. Borough Manager John C. Wagner said he has emphasized this to the borough employees.

He also instructed Kuller to call him by cell phone should such a situation ever arise again.

Bender commented, "I think the borough crew did an excellent job during the storm," adding the employees worked very well with the police department.

Councilman Scott Rehrig said he recently visited three states and numerous other boroughs. "We are number one in snow removal," he remarked. "Our public works deserves a lot of credit. They did a superfluous job."

Bender said one thing which was irritating was that some residents didn't apply common sense when putting their trash out for pickup. He said some ended getting buried in the snow piles.

Where snow removal occurred, there was concern about trash being picked up by the snow removal equipment.

There also was trash placed on sidewalks and in locations where other people could trip on it.

Bender said in the downtown area where parking meters exist, there were paths shoveled by property owners and tenants but snow was piled against the meters. In some cases, people couldn't use the meters unless they climbed over the snow banks.

Scott Rehrig suggested that when snow removal occurs by the borough in the downtown area, that workers push the snow from the curb area into the street so it can be removed.

Another councilman, John Bird, told Bender, "In extreme cases, use discretion and not issue tickets."

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