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City, county successful in clearing roads after unusually heavy snow
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While the 10-inch snowfall Tuesday was a bit unexpected, the Langlade County Highway Department and the Antigo Street Department took the situation in stride, but it was a ton of work.

“We went out at 2 a.m.,” Tim Rusch, commissioner of the county’s highway operations said, adding that progress was made, despite the fact that the snowfall made it difficult to tell.

Rusch explained that it has been a busy winter for his department with plows out frequently as the snowfall continued to come.

“We are getting toward the higher end of our budget,” he said. In addition to plenty of blade time, the amount of sand and salt used has been very high.

The county has a snow removal budget of $650,000 for what Crystal Wells, the department’s office manager, explained in a “normal year.”

She was closing the books, and said that 2013 was already over by about $10,000, and that does not figure in what’s been going on this week.

Rusch said during the height of the Tuesday storm, the snow was falling at about one inch per hour, and it can and did add up quickly.

At the city level, Street Commissioner Bob Piskula sent his crews out in force at 7;30 a.m. Tuesday, and they stayed on the job until evening traffic forced a halt at 5 p.m.

“We were weaving in and out of vehicles on the road and it was just too risky,” Piskula said.

After a few hours of downtime, the operators were back in their machines by 1 a.m. Wednesday, working a full eight hour shift.

“We got the roads nice and clear yesterday, and then we got more snow overnight,” Piskula said, adding that the process is starting all over again.

The city sent out all of its equipment—five graders, three loaders, the snowblower, two sanders and five dump trucks—and rented three dump trucks from Heinzen Plumbing and Heating to help keep the main thoroughfares clear.

“That’s everything, and everybody, I’ve got,” Piskula said.

City crews are an experienced bunch, Piskula said, with little turnover in their ranks. The drivers knew what to do when the snow hit, and that helped.

The snowfall did cause some delays in Christmas tree pickups, and Piskula said many of the evergreens are buried deep in snowbanks and will be difficult to locate in time for next Tuesday’s Optimist Club burn.

And city crews continue to be busy keeping water and sewer lines thawed after the recent bitter cold, and must begin cutting back banks to improve visibility at intersections.

“We’ll get to everything but we’re backed up a little right now” he said. “People have been very patient.”

The dicey roadways led to a few fender benders, but unlike Marathon County, with a multi-car pileup, and Oneida, site of a three-person fatal crash, there were no serious incidents.

“We had a number of weather-related accidents and vehicles in the ditch due to treacherous road conditions but fortunately we did not have any serious injuries,” Langlade County Sheriff Bill Greening said. “It seems that the majority of people understand that they need to slow down and be cautious in severe weather.”


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The city snowblower cleared Superior Street just south of downtown on Wednesday.
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ANTIGO DAILY
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