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Volunteers sought for snow removal

November 13, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

The City of Hagerstown is pushing a new approach to shoveling: volunteerism.

The city is looking for people to dig out other people's sidewalks when a snowstorm hits.

John Lestitian, the city's chief code enforcement officer, said it's the first time the city has tried to create a volunteer bank of this sort.

"People will accept it as if it's their own walk," he said. "This is a great supplement, where neighbors help neighbors."

In a few weeks, the Washington County Commission on Aging will start asking people who need shoveling help to sign up, too.


To be eligible for the free service, people must:

· Be at least 60 years old

· Be unable to pay for snow removal

· Be physically unable to clear snow

· Have no household member who can clear snow

Sidewalk snow removal became a hot issue in the city last winter. The city sent bills to people who hadn't followed snow-clearing rules.

City residents and businesses had to have their walks cleared within 10 hours after a snowstorm - four hours if they were downtown.

In one case, the city charged a Virginia Avenue woman a $100 administrative fee, $78 for labor and $45 for salt to clear the sidewalk in front of her home.

A woman who lives on West Side Avenue was charged $514 after her sidewalks were cleared twice.

After public criticism of the enforcement, the city reviewed and loosened its policy and lowered some of the charges.

Last month, the Hagerstown City Council approved hiring a different company, Servtec Custodial Inc., to clear the sidewalks.

Under the new contract, salt, labor and equipment costs will be lower, according to the city.

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