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Town employees draw praise for their snow-removal efforts

March 11, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN - Most people avoid the roads during big snow storms, but Roger Griffith and Steve Saccone Jr. don't have that option.

As Funkstown's public works employees, the two are charged with making the streets safe for Funkstown residents and motorists passing through the town. And they have worked overtime this winter to fulfill their snow removal duties.

Their efforts have drawn praise from Funkstown officials and residents.

"They've been great - both of 'em," Funkstown Mayor Robert Kline said. "And I'll tell you what, our streets were cleaner than Hagerstown's" after the February snow storm that dumped about 2 feet of snow in Washington County.

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Griffith, the town's maintenance supervisor, and Saccone, Funkstown's new wastewater treatment plant operator, worked around-the-clock to clear the snow-covered streets following the big storm of '03, they said.

"We stayed on it," said Griffith, 54. "I've kind of like lived here. But really, I don't mind. It's work, and I like my job. It's different every day. You can get fed up with the winter months, but I try to remember that spring will be here soon."

The snow was no big news for Saccone, 27. He shoveled and plowed out of dozens of similar storms while growing up in Syracuse, N.Y., he said.

"You've just got to take your time. People tend to go nuts around here when they see snow," said Saccone, of Chewsville.

He and Griffith began plowing Funkstown's roads after about 2 inches of snow had fallen late Saturday, Feb. 15, they said. They added salt and anti-skid material to the roads and continued to plow throughout the duration of the long snowfall and for about three days after the snow ended, they said.

Griffith and Saccone worked first to clear intersections and the town's main thoroughfare before clearing dead-end streets and roads leading to the town's five pumping stations, wastewater treatment plant and lagoon, they said.

One man drove the snow plow while the other served as a navigator in the passenger seat, making sure pedestrians and vehicles parked along the road were well clear of the truck, they said.

"My biggest worry is the kids," said Griffith, of Funkstown. "They think it's time to play when you're plowing the streets. They want to catch a ride on the back of the truck. You've got to be alert at all times."

Finding a place for all the plowed snow proved to be another challenge, said Griffith and Saccone, who dumped most of the white stuff in Funkstown's community park. They tried to work with town residents to plow where vehicles were parked - and found that most Funkstown residents were more than willing to cooperate.

"The people here are pretty courteous," said Saccone, who suggested moving vehicles from main roads within four hours to help speed up the street clearing process.

Equipment problems made a hard job even tougher. The town's 14-year-old dump truck with plow broke down before the snow removal work was completed, and the pickup truck-mounted plow had to be repaired to finish the task, Griffith said.

Funkstown Assistant Mayor Paul Crampton has offered the use of a truck if needed to plow more snow, Griffith said.

To make matters worse, the heavy snow collapsed the roof on a storage barn near the town's lagoon, he said. Griffith and Saccone have been working to help clear that mess, they said.

The two also hand-shoveled the sidewalks in front of Town Hall and a few other locations, and appreciated the help of Funkstown residents who cleared sidewalks with their snow-blowers and shovels, they said.

"They're good people," Griffith said. "We appreciate all the help they give us."

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