Letters to the editor

February 14, 2010

Having read a somewhat negative article in The Baltimore Sun [on Wednesday] about snow removal in Howard County, I wanted to offer my extremely positive experience with our county government.

First, the online tracking system that Howard County used was excellent and most helpful to county residents. We watched throughout the weekend as main roads, then secondary roads, and then cul-de-sacs were cleared. Not only was the system helpful, it was a fun diversion during the storm.

However, by Tuesday, despite reassurances from the county call center, whose employees were patient and professional at all times, our cul-de-sac in Elkridge had not been plowed, even though neighboring streets had been cleared since Monday afternoon. Despite days of shoveling, we had not reached a point in which non-SUVs could use the street. Concerned that we might not be plowed out before the second storm, I e-mailed our County Council representative, Courtney Watson. My e-mail was not one of complaint, but rather simply seeking information as to whether we might expect to get plowed before the next storm. We understood that this was an unprecedented storm and that someone has to be last. But I also had some concern that there might be a glitch with the snow removal plan. Part of our neighborhood is public while much of it is private, so I thought that some confusion regarding that status might be the reason we had been bypassed.

My e-mail to Ms. Watson was sent in the early afternoon. Less than five minutes after my e-mail, Ms. Watson called me back and said that she had forwarded my e-mail to the county executive and the director of public works. She also promised to have one of her staff try to obtain some information for us. About 10 minutes after that, her staffer, Terry Chaconas, called me back and said that the plows were on their way. Forty minutes after that, the equipment arrived to the delight of our cheering neighbors. And it was not just a plow, but also a large front loader, which moved snow off the streets quite precisely and avoided our shoveled driveways. In addition, County Executive [Ken] Ulman himself and the director of public works arrived behind the equipment to greet residents. Ms. Watson also followed up with me in the evening to make sure that our concern had been resolved.

I cannot say enough how much our neighborhood appreciated the excellent job that the county, and particularly Ms. Watson and her staff, did to respond to our concerns. Kudos to Ms. Watson, County Executive Ulman, public works, and to all of the men and women who toiled to clear our streets and to keep residents safe during this storm.

Cynthia Spirt, Elkridge

The purpose of this letter is to commend and thank the Howard County government employees, County Executive Ken Ulman, and council member Courtney Watson for the tremendous job they have done over the last several days.

The challenges faced with this unprecedented snowstorm were tremendous. Not only was the county faced with clearing roads, the question became where to put the snow. Yet Howard County used all resources to clear major arteries, clean secondary roads, and distribute the snow in the best means possible.

There was a marked difference in the condition of the roads once you traveled outside of Howard County. Howard County did an excellent job of clearing all roads in a safe manner, recognizing that time was limited before the next snow began to fall.

Courtney Watson did an excellent job of updating District 1 and all those fortunate enough to be on her mailing list. We received notice of the conditions of roads, the intended schedule for snow removal, and important phone numbers related to the snow. She also made herself and her office available to all for concerns and problems during the storm.

Thank you to all involved in the snow removal. Howard County proved once again why this is a great place to live.

Greg Birmingham, Ellicott City

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