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Woman's walk cleared twice for $514

February 01, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Benita Hawkins has become very familiar with Hagerstown's snow-clearing policy in the past two months.

The sidewalks in front of her West Side Avenue home have been cleared twice by a city contractor, for total charges of $514. The charges included $200 in city administrative fees, $90 for two salt applications and $224 in labor costs.

"I can understand keeping the city clean - it's safe - but do it fair," Hawkins said Friday.

Hawkins, 46, said she has lived in the city for eight years. She said she didn't know about the city's snow-removal ordinance in early December, and didn't shovel her sidewalk. Then, she received the bill in the mail for $285.

Hawkins said she works in West Virginia and can be called in to work at a moment's notice. Clearing snow, she said, is not high on her priority list.

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But Jan. 21, three days after snow stopped falling, she had the city's policy in mind. Hawkins took leave from work, bought a 40-pound bag of salt and treated her sidewalks.

The next night when she returned from work, she said she was hoping the salt would have taken care of the ice so she could shovel. But instead, the city had cleared it for her. She was billed $229.

On Monday, she said she paid three men $25 to clear her sidewalks. That night, she said a snowplow undid their work when it tossed snow back onto her sidewalk. She said she hopes the city won't charge her again.

On Thursday, she bought more salt. She said a 20-pound bag of salt cost her $2.18.

"I came from Southeast (Washington) D.C., and dodged bullets all my life. ... But this is a trip," Hawkins said.

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