December 25, 2008 in Voices

West Plains crews tackle snow

City officials credit workers for speedy efforts to clean up streets
By The Spokesman-Review

West Plains city officials praised snow crews for their readiness and quick work in clearing streets in response to the series of snowstorms that started last week.

The city of Cheney dug itself out by 12:30 p.m. Friday, running plows 24 hours a day starting at 3 p.m. Dec. 17, according to Arlene Fisher, city administrator.

Fisher said city officials had been monitoring weather reports before the first storm hit. Plows started on main arterials and emergency routes and moved on to side streets.

Fisher said crews ran into a problem when a pipe burst in the Cheney Care Center. Workers moved 28 residents to another wing of the building while the problem was fixed.

Cheney Public Schools and Eastern Washington University were both closed, which aided crews. Cmdr. Rick Campbell, of the Cheney Police Department, said it was lucky that many students had left campus for winter break, leaving streets largely clear of parked vehicles and easing the way for plows.

Only essential city personnel were on duty last week. Fisher said they met every four hours to discuss their progress and determine what to do next. By Friday, she and crews were meeting every six hours.

Many police officers were helping residents to snowblow driveways, and employees of the Wren Pierson Community Center were helping some residents bring their garbage down to the street for curbside pickup.

“We’re just keeping the plows running,” she said. “I have to commend those street crews.”

“Team Cheney does it again,” she said.

Airway Heights

In Airway Heights, the city’s street crews had everything cleared by the end of the first day of storms, said Albert Tripp, city manager. “We were prepared this year,” he said.

The city had its crew of three trucks, plows and a grader clearing streets as soon as snow began to pile up.

There were no broken water pipes in the city.

“I’m extremely proud of the way our public works department responded,” Tripp said.

Medical Lake

Doug Ross, the city administrator in Medical Lake, said it’s business as usual in the city.

“We fully understand that it snows in Eastern Washington,” he said.

The city has a grader, a front-end loader and two dump trucks to help clear the streets. Its seven employees were rotating shifts and working overtime.

“The guys are working their tails off,” he said.

He said the streets were cleared in 48 hours, and crews started again Monday, when more snow fell.

“It’s winter and it snowed, and we’re going about our business,” Ross said.

He said he was asking residents to be patient while crews clean up after additional snowfall.

“For the most part, people have perspective on what’s happening,” he said.

Contact staff writer Lisa Leinberger at 459-5449 or by e-mail at

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