DPW superintendent says snow removal efforts 'went well'

Assessing the performance of city snowplow drivers following the season’s first measurable snow comes down to who you ask. While many on social media were grumbling, Brian Chaplin, Hannibal’s public works superintendent, was pleased with the performance of the city’s snow movers.

“It went well,” he said Tuesday morning as more snowflakes floated past his second floor office windows at city hall. “We had a minimal number of complaints. Everything went good. There were a couple of small streets that we missed, but we got right back out and did them.”

One-third of the Street Department’s nine-man crew were plowing for the first time this weekend. The rookies’ training started long before the first flake of snow fell.

“We got them on board early enough that we could show them the route and how to move snow with the plows. It’s kind of difficult if you haven’t done it a whole lot,” said Chaplin. “We get them in the trucks with the plows and (material) boxes on so they are familiar with the (vehicle’s) weight. We want to make sure they’re comfortable in the vehicle when they do this. We get them out and drop the blade on some of these streets to let them know what to look for – raised manhole covers, water valves and things like that that you’ve got to be really careful with.”

The new drivers’ training goes beyond the equipment they will be using.

“We don’t make them hurry; It’s not a race. We really drill into them that safety is No. 1,” said Chaplin. “We want them looking out for how close they are to vehicles, curbs, people. You really have to focus out there.”

Chaplin agreed that the approximately 2 inches of snow that fell on Christmas Eve was a good test for the beginners.

“It was a typical first snow. It was just enough to cover the road and make things slick,” he said.

Snow movers were mobilized around 6 a.m. Sunday.

“We were out maybe eight or nine hours and got everything cleared off. Then we got the call-ins taken care of where some additional salt or cinders was needed,” said Chaplin.

Street Department personnel had more streets to clear than before, according to Chaplin.

“We took on plowing the new subdivision at Fette Orchard,” he said. “Being new concrete you don’t want to put salt on it the first year. We used cinders only and plowed it.”

Many familiar streets plowed like new ones after being resurfaced earlier his year.

“You can definitely tell a big difference in plowing a new street rather than an old street. The new pavement is smoother,” said Chaplin. “There’s no potholes or raised areas where we’ve patched. Sometimes it (plowing) takes the old asphalt out or old cold patch out of the potholes and then you have to go back and repair those.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com