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Town road crews exhausted by winter's fury

HINESBURG-STARKSBOROThere has certainly been no shortage of grumbling about the seemingly endless winter of 2008. Inclement weather has caused multiple school closings, set commuters nerves on edge while navigating in treacherous road conditions, it has depleted towns sand and salt supplies and still the snow and ice keeps coming. Mike Anthony, road foreman for the Town of Hinesburg said it has been a pretty trying winter. Anthonys crew has hit the roads over 100 times this year far more than usual. Starksboros highway man Tom Estey reports that in past years his crew goes on plowing cycles about 85 times during the winter season. This year the crew made 108 trips and are still counting. Anthony and Estey both credit the media with getting the word out to the public that salt supplies are incredibly low this year, which limited the number of complaints from citizens trying to navigate on icy pavement and gravel. Cold, snowy and icy weather in the mid-west and across New England has created the salt shortage, draining salt sheds and making it difficult to obtain more. Sand has also been gobbled up at an alarming rate, and even towns that had plentiful reserves have found themselves coming up short. Its difficult to know what to do without sand and salt, said Anthony. Its tiring on the crew. Anthony said that, several times, his crew has had to go out and clear paved roads with no salt; the team still tried to keep a positive attitude in the face of Mother Natures shenanigans. Anthony also noted that the support of Hinesburgs selectboard was big a moral booster. The board gave the entire Hinesburg road crew a day and half off and suggested they take it adjacent to a weekend, so they could have a mini-vacation. With evenings and weekends spent plowing and sanding, said Anthony, the to-do list a home just kept getting bigger. In addition, the crew received a certificate of appreciation from the town for all their efforts. In all, road crews are keeping a good sense of humor. Esteys comments about the winter weather just ended required some editingYou cant print it (in a family newspaper)! Estey and coworker Tony Porter had a few chuckles about the number of trucks in nearby towns that have slithered off the roads this year. Quite a few plows went off (the road) this winter, said Estey. He noted that a large tandem dump truck he was driving slid off Mason Hill North in Starksboro. The truck had to be hauled out and had rear axle damage. But Vermont road crews wouldnt last long in winter without friendships, a sense of humor, long perspectives, and optimism about the changing seasons. Lets not forget, they seem to all agree, that after the snow and ice in Vermont comesmud. We might not have a bad mud season, said Estey. We can always hope.

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