Ephrata passes snow ordinance

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EPHRATA — The Ephrata City Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a new snow removal ordinance that adds fines for those who shovel their snow into the street or interfere with snow clearing operations.

According to City Administrator Wes Crago, city officials decided to review Ephrata’s snow removal policy “from top to bottom” after last year’s “extreme winter.”

“We’re pretty aggressive with snow removal,” Crago told the city council. “But it costs $8,000 for a four-inch snow event.”

The fines are fairly simple — $45 for shoveling snow into the street after it has been plowed and $135 for interfering with snow removal, acts both Crago and Public Works Field Supervisor Dennis Ohl said became more common toward the end of last year’s very long and very cold winter.

“Some people do it, and we’ll stop and have a friendly chat with them,” Ohl said. “Mostly, it was folks who had enough of winter, got tired of it and were frustrated.”

Crago said the city’s snow crew will continue to aggressively plow streets in order to ensure that emergency vehicles — fire trucks, utility trucks, school buses — can get through.

“If we don’t plow, that makes it difficult and unsafe,” Crago said.

Crago said snow removal will typically begin after a snow storm ends, and start with main arteries, such as Division Street And Nat Washington Way (Basin Street is plowed by state transportation department crews), then move on to hills and downtown streets, clear Basin Street intersections, provide access to schools, and finally clear residential neighborhoods.

“We make three passes on each side of a street, curb to curb, or else we lose the street,” Crago said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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