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Lennox battles winter’s wrath: City crews tackle 14+ inches of snowfall

Winter has officially made its entrance across the Midwest and Lennox is no exception. City workers were hit with over 14+ inches through the past week and weekend. With growing snowfall amounts, residents often wonder where the snow goes and what needs to be done at their own homes.

To help keep residents of Lennox safe, the city works long, tireless hours clearing snow from all the streets. 

“The City of Lennox employs five total plow drivers, three are tasked to the Street Department full-time, one that is split between Street and Parks and the Utilities Superintendent and other staff will pitch in when necessary to help relieve others by using other equipment,” said City Administrator, Nate Vander Plaats.

Crews have a unique way of keeping all the streets clear in town. 

“Our emergency routes are designed to keep emergency services running as smoothly as possible during a snow event. We have enough staff to assign specific streets without necessarily prioritizing which street on the emergency routes is plowed first,” he said. 

After crews get a start on clearing the emergency route streets, they start to clear out the emergency services buildings for easier access for employees and emergencies. 

“There are definitely times when we have a call during heavy snow to clear a path or a road, that was the case last year during particularly heavy snow days, but once the emergency routes are clear, we move on to residential streets, alleys, city sidewalks and recreational trails,” he said.

City crews start time depends on when the snow begins falling and if there is a stopping point looking ahead. “

In this last storm, we got started at 6 a.m. Monday with a full crew, but other staff may go in early to keep emergency routes open. Tuesday, the crew got started at 3 a.m. In a perfect world, snow would end late at night and allow crews to work on streets overnight, this helps limit the amount of traffic and obstacles for our plow crews,” Vander Plaats said.

With all the snow piling up, crews need to find a place to put all the snow they take off the roads. 

“This year, snow is being taken to the south end of the Lennox High School property. The location used to be the track and football facility, but with a few long winters, we’ve grown concern about snow melting in time for the track season, so this is the first year we’ve exclusively used the land south of the High School,” he said. 

Luckily, with the open space available to them, no snow is hauled to an out-of-town location. 

“We do not rent the land, we need to help each other when it comes to snow removal, and this arrangement works well for us,” Vander Plaats said. 

Crews continued to work throughout the weekend having faced blizzard warnings on Saturday. 

“Wind can be one of the more frustrating aspects of our winter storms because in many cases, we have to go back over specific spots up to a dozen times during a storm just to open it up from drifting,” he said. 

The areas with the most concern for drifting are the Countryside Development, the Industrial Park, the Recreational Trail, and Boynton Avenue.

Vander Plaats hopes the residents of Lennox understand a little grace and patience will go a long way when encountering snowplow drivers and letting them get to the work that needs to be done. 

“We don’t like snow in our driveways any more than you do, it’s no fun to finish clearing your driveway only to have one of our plows come by and leave an 18” deep row of snow in your driveway. We promise we aren’t doing it on purpose, we’re simply trying to clear the road,” he said. 

The city appreciates residents’ participation in keeping vehicles off the streets during a snow event. 

“Even if there isn’t a snow alert, it’s a good idea to remove your vehicles from the street before we start plowing, plow trucks are big vehicles and take a up a lot of room to maneuver around obstacles,” Vander Plaats said. 

Additionally, residents should refrain from blowing their snow from their driveways into the streets. 

“There is actually a City Ordinance that establishes a fine for blowing snow into streets and after this last snowstorm, I think we’re going to need to start enforcing that law soon,” he said. 

The fine for not moving your vehicle can add up. According to the ordinance, a $100 parking fine, $150 in tow fees and any additional impound fees may be applied to the owner of the vehicle.

With visibility limited to drivers, Vander Plaats and his team want residents to know if there is any damage caused to their property by a plow, to let them know and they can resolve it. 

“If we hit your mailbox with either a plow or snow that is being pushed through, please let us know so that we can start the reimbursement process. This is just a part of plowing, and we usually hit a couple during the course of each snow event,” he said. 

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