Henry Jackman was at work before many Allen Countians were awake this morning, prompted by snowfall that started about 4 o’clock and predicted to total three to five inches.
“We try to get started about two hours before the traffic picks up,” said Jackman, a county employee for 17 years, as he spread a mixture of salt and pea rock on hard-surfaced roads south of Iola.
His first mission was on the county road leading to Allen County Airport, including the U.S. 169 overpass. Next up was old U.S. 169, from Iola through Humboldt and on to the Allen-Neosho counties line.
Initially, he spread only the ice-melting mixture at intersections, hills and at stops, places where slick pavement can be more of a problem.
He added a plow to the front of his truck before heading south on the old highway. As the snow total mounts, plowing before applying the salt and rock makes the process more effective, Jackman said.
Plowing itself is an art. Jackman has control from the cab of his large diesel-powered truck and can adjust the plow’s height and whether to move snow to left or right.
While his is a directional plow, those fastened to motor graders are V-shaped and throw snow either way. Trucks with directional plows are used on the county’s 100-plus miles of hard-surfaced roads that must be kept open for two-way traffic. The V-plows are used on rock roads where only one lane of traffic is deemed necessary. Gravel roads comprise nearly 900 miles in Allen County.
SCOTT REEDER, meanwhile, used a small run-about tractor with a front-mounted rotary brush to clear sidewalks and parking areas near the courthouse in downtown Iola. He also removed snow from walkways near Iola’s Senior Center, 204 N. Jefferson Ave., where congregate meals are served at noon each weekday.
“We’ll have four plows out today, which should be able to handle what’s predicted,” said Bill King, director of Public Works.
In heavy snows, as many as seven county plows may be dispatched.
In Iola, city crews spread salt and rock on high-traffic streets and near schools, nursing homes and Allen County Hospital. They, too, may ramp up efforts to include removal.
Kansas Department of Transportation trucks also were plowing and treating highways U.S. 54 and 169 through Allen County, including on and off ramps along U.S. 169.
“Most people understand that when we get snow or ice you have to slow down and drive more carefully,” Jackman said, motioning toward a string of slow-moving traffic just south of Iola this morning. “What we do just makes it a little safer for them.”
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