Plowing roadways during winter is a matter of public safety. In Otter Tail County (OTC), plow drivers are an integral part of keeping business and commerce moving along. From long haul truck drivers to local delivery drivers — all contribute to public safety.
Each storm and each day is different for plow drivers. Sometimes plow drivers may be called upon to clear a private roadway for medical services or law enforcement to provide emergency help to residents.
One recent incident stuck out for OTC Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons.
“One example of their dedication, during our last big snow event, was their willingness to plow an opening to a residence in the county to allow an ambulance to get in to render care during a medical emergency. Our deputies and emergency responders would not be able to respond to the emergency calls without the hard work of the local, county and state plow drivers. Your work is appreciated,” said Fitzgibbons.
Even more astounding is the amount of miles that the plows collectively put in.
In a typical snow event, county drivers plow 2,100 lane miles, with the process taking about 8-12 hours to plow with a significant snow event.
Normal shifts run 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. A typical shift will only have enough personnel to operate one shift daily, with each area having a group leader who is responsible for watching the weather. If there is a 20% chance or greater of snow the leader reports to work to assess the needs in their area.
Depending on the roadway, most are plowed by several different agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Transportation, County Highway Departments and township and city crews.
During another recent snow event, OTC commissioner, Dan Bucholz (District 1), rode with county snowplow driver Greg Januszewski. He wanted to experience the work the dedicated highway maintenance crews perform. He came away with extreme admiration for the work they do and service they provide to the county.
“The drivers have a tough job in some pretty harsh conditions, but they work hard to get the roads cleared. We really appreciate the work they do,” said Bucholz.
With the enormous amount of roadways county plow drivers have to get to during a typical storm, there are some things the public can do to assist snow plow drivers. Among them are to slow down and stay back. Additionally, residents are advised to not plow snow from a property into the road or sidewalks or store items in the right-of-way.
Mailbox maintenance is also extremely important. County officials advise preparing your mailbox properly with a swing arm and maintaining its care.
More information about what residents can do to assist snow plow drivers and on snow removal and ice control policies is available at ottertailcountymn.us/snow-removal-ice-control/.