January rains cause slick conditions
By John Faucher
For the second week in a row, the thud of ice chisels pinged, back up alarms blared through the day and night. The sound of blades scraping pavement, salt pelting sidewalks and wheels spinning loose at intersections were commonplace across the region.
Recent rain events mixed with freezing conditions on Jan. 10 and 17 left the region covered in layers of dangerous ice.
Schools in New London and Hortonville closed on both occasions.
Parking lots, sidewalks and streets were left with frozen ruts and crusty piles of ice the first week, and sheets of black ice magnified the problem one week later.
Many stores sold out of salt, ice chippers and scrapers after the first storm.
Hortonville Public Works Director Carl McCrary said village public works employees have had to use two to three times the amount of salt they normally do to treat sidewalks and village owned parking lots.
The first ice storm ended with an arctic chill that froze a thick layer of slush and ice that residents and local officials from both towns were still not finished dealing with when the second storm hit.
New London Public Works Director Jeff Bodoh asked residents to please treat their sidewalks with salt or some form of “grit,” during a televised city council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10
McCrary said the village contracts with Outagamie County to take care of village streets.
He said that the county salt supply was adequate despite a busy winter thus far.
“The county usually does a good job of keeping an extra inventory of salt on hand,” said McCrary.
With the recent storms, he said it takes some side streets a little longer to thaw because there is less traffic on those streets.
“You need traffic to work that salt in,” said McCrary.
Residents are also struggling with the ice on their own sidewalks and driveways.
“Salt for personal use has been hard to find,” said McCrary. “Whenever there is an emergency there a temporary shortage can happen. It’s like propane and snow blowers.”
McCrary said that so far this winter the village has plowed and salted more than average.
“This year our expenditures are up slightly over last year but that could change,” McCrary said. “You never can predict the future.”
“It’s early in the game yet for this budget season. We typically budget snow removal from January to January and hope for a good fall,” said McCrary.
He was feeling optimistic about the warming trend expected to stay in the area for the next week.
“It’ll be nice to give the plow operators and the guys a little bit of a break,” said McCrary.