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Volunteers ready to shovel snow

November 28, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN

erinc@herald-mail.com

Cindy Brown and six other members of Otterbein United Methodist Church in Hagerstown shoveled snow at two city homes last year and plan to do so again this winter.

Brown, the church's director of programming, said the group she calls her "snow angels" shoveled at least five times last year for two residents who were unable to do so.

Last year, more than 20 volunteers like Brown were matched with residents who needed help with snow removal by the city's Code Compliance Office, according to John Lestitian, chief inspector.

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The volunteer program began last year and helps willing volunteers contact residents who are physically and financially unable to remove snow from sidewalks near their home.

Brown said the crew from Otterbein cannot wait to begin shoveling again.

After receiving the names and addresses of the residents they would be helping, Brown said she called and introduced herself.

"We knew then what they wanted shoveled," Brown said. "Then, the first time we saw snow, we showed up with shovels."

She gave the residents her home phone number, along with the phone number at the church. When they saw snow, Brown said, they wouldn't have to wait and wonder if someone would arrive to help.

She said one of the residents Brown and other volunteers helped was an elderly woman who enjoyed talking to them while they shoveled.

"The first time we went, they were strangers," she said. "By the end of the winter, we were friends."

Lestitian said downtown sidewalks should be cleared within four hours after snowfall ends. In the outlying areas of the city, sidewalks should be clear within 10 hours, he said.

Lestitian said there is no guarantee there will be enough snow volunteers for everyone in need, so people should plan ahead.

"Our goal is to have voluntary compliance," he said. "This is a supplemental code to supplement neighbors helping neighbors."

Lestitian said residents who believe they will need a volunteer to shovel their snow should call as soon as possible to arrange for a volunteer.

Residents who may request a volunteer must be financially unable to pay for snow removal, physically unable to clear snow from property, have no household member able to clear snow and live in the residence.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or needs assistance with snow removal and meets the criteria may call 301-739-8577, ext. 195.

Hagerstown's snow removal code states:

Property owners within the city's business district have four hours after snowfall stops to shovel sidewalks, unless it stops between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. In this case, residents have until 9 a.m. the next day to clear the sidewalks. The business district is defined as those properties within the area bounded by Church Street and East Avenue to the north, Mulberry Street to the east, Baltimore Street to the south and Prospect Street to the west.

In all other areas of Hagerstown, the sidewalks and other pedestrian areas should be cleared within 10 hours after the snow stops.

Ice and snow that are not cleared are declared a nuisance and are subject to abatement by Hagerstown or its contractors. The property owner will be billed for the cost of the abatement, plus a $60 administrative fee.

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