By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — How many times this year have you driven down River Street in Colfax and encountered a large pile of snow?
If the Colfax Village Board agrees to buy a Skid Steer with a snow blower attachment, those piles of snow will be relics of the past.
Rand Bates, director of public works, presented information at the Colfax Village Board’s February 24 meeting about purchasing a used Skid Steer with a snow blower attachment.
A used Skid Steer will be about $30,000, and the snow blower will cost another $10,000, he said.
Although Bates had initially considered a snow blower for the village’s front-end loader, a snow blower for the loader would cost as much as a used Skid Steer with a snow blower, Bates said.
The Skid Steer, he said, would eliminate village employees having to move snow twice.
And in a year like this, where 60 inches of snow have fallen by the end of February with March — typically known as the snowiest month just around the corner — not having to move snow twice would be a real time-saver, Bates said.
Other attachments are available for Skid Steers as well, such as brushes and excavating equipment, he noted.
A snow blower for the loader would be something that could only be used in the winter. If the village purchased a Skid Steer with a snow blower, the Skid Steer could be used all year round, Bates said.
With a Skid Steer, village employees would windrow the snow down Main Street and then come along with the snow blower and blow the snow into the back of a dump truck so it could be hauled away immediately, Bates explained.
The current procedure is to push the snow from Main Street into huge piles on River Street and then come back later and load up the piles and haul them away, he said.
“We can windrow the main drag in an hour. Then after that, Don (Logslett) can take the snowplow and plow snow, and me and Todd Higbie and Gary Hill can clear the main drag off. That should probably take two or three hours, depending on the snow. We would not be moving the snow and then the next day, going back to start trucking it out,” Bates said.
After one recent snowfall, 68 miles were put on the dump truck to move snow, he noted.
Main Street presents a particularly difficult challenge when it snows.
“Traffic starts at 4 a.m. and by 5 a.m. you better be off the main drag or you have to stop for so many cars you can’t believe it,” Bates said.
“This would eliminate pushing the snow somewhere else. The end loader windrows. Don goes somewhere else. The snow is blown into trucks. And it’s gone,” he said.
Annie Schieber, village trustee, wondered about other uses for the Skid Steer.
The village has ten curb stops that need to be dug out and fixed because the boxes are bent, Bates said.
Hiring someone else dig out the curb stops costs about $250 for each one, and village employees could use the Skid Steer to dig out the curb stops, Bates said.
“If we were to spend the money, I would rather see a machine like this that we could use somewhere else than just to move snow … it’s something we can use all year long and it’s not just a snow blower,” he said.
Mark Halpin, village trustee, wondered about using the Skid Steer to clear sidewalks along Main Street.
If the Skid Steer could be used to clear sidewalks, Scott Gunnufson, village president, wondered if property owners would be willing to pay $50 per year to have their sidewalks cleared.
Susan LaNou, owner of DeLuxe Beauty Salon, who spoke to the board during the public comments section of the meeting about snow removal on Main Street, said she definitely would be willing to pay $50 per year for her sidewalks.
LaNou said she did not know how only two village employees could manage to clear snow from the streets and still do all of their other regular work.
“It takes us three hours to clear our driveway and down by our horse barn … they have to eat sometime. They have to sleep sometime,” she said.
“These guys are already putting in a lot of hours,” Schieber agreed.
The Colfax Village Board approved a motion directing Bates to find more information about used Skid Steers and a snow blower attachment and to bring the information to the streets committee.
Bates noted that the long-range forecast for March says the temperature is expected to be below average but that the snowfall is expected to be above average.
In other business, the Colfax Village Board:
• Approved an application from Kandee Burton for a bartender operator’s license from February 24 through June 30, 2014.
• Learned that after the village thaws out a frozen water lateral the first time, if the lateral freezes up again, the homeowner is charged for thawing it out the second time. The village clerk’s office has sent out postcards to all village residents advising them to keep their water running at one faucet until further notice.
• Approved making a $50 donation to the Post Prom Committee.
• Approved a motion to allow the village administrator-clerk-treasurer to seek financing for the Fourth Avenue project.