Snow-removal crews brace for another storm Courts, county offices and trash pickup resume

January 12, 1996|By Alisa Samuels and Ed Heard | Alisa Samuels and Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

After days of plowing and clearing snow, Howard County road crews were gearing up yesterday to go another round against Old Man Winter of 1996.

"We'll be ready," said Public Works Director James M. Irvin, noting that his department had 110 pieces of equipment, 150 workers and about 30,000 tons of salt to cope with the 4 to 7 inches of snow predicted by the end of today.

Yesterday's preparations came as the county struggled to get essential services such as mail delivery by the Postal Service and trash pickup back to normal this week.

County courts and county government offices were to open today with a liberal leave policy in effect for employees.

Schools -- which have been closed all week -- are expected to reopen Tuesday, weather permitting, after observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday.

They also will operate Jan. 19, originally scheduled as an in-service training day for teachers, the school board decided last night.

In preparation for the newest storm, snow removal equipment was being serviced and workers were sent home to rest, Mr. Irvin said.

By mid-morning yesterday, road crews had begun clearing lots for schools, the Board of Education and Howard Community College. As of yesterday afternoon, workers had cleared all 860 miles of road in the county, Mr. Irvin said.

Even the hard-to-reach cul-de-sacs were plowed. Among them was Club Court in Ellicott City, which was buried until 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Although trash pickup resumed yesterday, collectors had difficulty picking up and hauling the trash through thigh-high snow in some areas.

Residents in areas not easily accessible were urged yesterday to leave their trash in bags at main public roads, where trash crews could easily find them, said John O'Hara, chief of the Howard County Bureau of Waste Management.

As of yesterday, officials planned for regular trash collection today and Saturday, though they said that schedule could change if heavy snow falls. Curb-side recycling pickups will resume next week.

The recycling deadline for Christmas trees has been extended to Jan. 27.

Mail delivery continued to be slow. In many parts of Columbia, postal workers had to climb over piles of snow to shove letters into the clustered mailboxes used in that community.

Some Columbia mail deliverers refused to do that, telling residents that they had to clear snow away from the clustered boxes if they wanted mail put in there. Others brought their own shovels to clear areas around the mailboxes.

Each worker on the 90 routes in Columbia could have as many as 600 homes per route, said Mike Gouldin, customer service supervisor at Columbia's main post office, adding that carriers would prefer that residents do the shoveling.

"We realize people are tired and the last thing they want to do is dig out a mailbox, but it makes it easier for us," Mr. Gouldin said. He said postal operations would be extremely busy next week when tons of mail delayed on airplanes and at other processing points are expected to arrive at the Columbia office.

With more snow predicted, long lines formed yesterday at the service window at the main post office in Columbia's Owen Brown village.

"Everybody's trying to get their business done before the snow comes again," Mr. Gouldin said.

Aside from some heavy rush hour traffic, police and fire officials reported little in the way of weather-related trouble yesterday.

Sgt. Steve Keller, a Howard County police spokesman, said that from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. eight accidents were reported in the county, none serious.

Trucks removing snow from a ramp at U.S. 29 and Route 100 east yesterday morning caused about a 30-minute delay between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. At that same spot, an accident was reported at 6:30 a.m.

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