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Winter snow removal poses big job for school district personnel

Sun Advocate reporter

A loader spreads snow on the lawn at Sally Mauro Elementary. Crews also had to haul away a lot of snow from the school's parking area.

Before the light of day brightens the sky and beckons Price's children out of bed, Carbon School District's transportation workers are on the job clearing snow from parking lots.

By 4 a.m. Monday morning Scott Robertson and his crew were already headed for their trucks to start pushing the weekend's onslaught of the wet white stuff out of the way, so teachers and students could start their day. Robertson, the district's transportation director, said last Friday that this is second worst winter he has seen in his 21 years on the job.

"I think in the past 20 years that we had only one other winter as bad as this," he said.

As a lifelong resident of the area, Robertson had his own take on the weather.

"Snow is always a lot of fun until you have to work in it," he said.

And this winter has kept him especially busy. The snow buildup at Sally Mauro Elementary in Helper proved especially daunting and ended up requiring a contractor to come in and haul the snow away at the end of January.

"It took approximately eight hours for the snow to be cleared out," Robertson said. "I believe that the contractor must have hauled 25 to 30 truckloads of snow out of there. And we may have to do it again this year."

While the Sally Mauro removal was a one-day sweep, the district's four trucks equipped with plows have been kept busy more days than not in the past two months, according to Robertson.

Whenever the snow falls, the trucks have to hit the road and make sure that Carbon's eight schools and school district offices are fully accessible, according to Robertson.

"We start at 5 a.m. and have to get the lots cleared before school starts," he said.

There are challenges however, to keeping Carbon County's educational system running smoothly and on time.

"People sometimes follow behind us, then speed up and pull in front of the truck and park," Robertson said. "It would be great if people could give us a little consideration so we can do our best for the community."

Keeping the pavement clear of ice and snow is only one part of the job for the transportation crew. They also have to make sure the 37 buses that transport the district's students back and forth keep running.

"We do all our own repairs," he said. "We recently had a bus break down because of an air line and a parent called up and yelled at me wanting to know why I let a bus break down on that particular day."

Robertson was quick to say that his department is committed to having the best relationship possible with the whole community and hoped a little perspective on his work might help facilitate better understanding.

"Just think about how many thousands of miles of snow we push on a yearly basis," he said.

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