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Westport 2-26-11

I'd just started a series of columns about life at the Town Shed when I got sidetracked last week by the prospective sale of the Treadwell estate. Check back here for future updates on that story, including a report on the planning board meeting on March 1.

In the meantime, here's a little more detail on my ride in a town plowtruck with Thad Tryon during the snow storm back on February 2. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, it began with a call from DPW Superintendent Jerry Sherman at 5 a.m., when he called the drivers in to work. Again, school was already cancelled, otherwise the call would have come much earlier, so that the roads could be cleared for the schoolbuses. That may seem like more time than necessary, but keep in mind that each route takes about three hours. So if plowing starts around 3:30, the roads won't be clear until 6:30 or so, just in time for the buses.

The first few minutes were taken up with loading material (sand and salt), as the trucks lined up for the loader behind the shed. One recent development is that the material is spread in front of the rear wheels now, unlike the rear spreaders that most of us are used to seeing. This is a big improvement, since now the trucks themselves benefit from spreading the material. Another newer development is that the plow controls, including the wing, are now operated by the driver. Up to a few years ago, our drivers worked with a partner, which they still do in some towns.

Thad's route starts in the middle of town with Stevenson Road. On the way back we turned off for Napper Road and Dudley Road (including Barber Road), turning around at the north end of Dudley Road and retracing our steps to Stevenson and back into town. Then out to Sherman Road and Merriam Forge Road and back again.

As I said, this took three hours and then I went home-but Thad and the other drivers kept right on going till the storm was over.

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