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After all the snow is plowed, where does it go?

The Perham Public Works Department stockpiles snow at the East Otter Tail County Fairgrounds following large snowfalls. Photo by Sam Benshoof.

Winter is officially here, which means the city of Perham's snow removal equipment is fired up and ready to go.

After the blizzards of New Year's, a foot of snow blanketed the city and after long 10 or more hour shifts, the crew had the city streets clear. But that's just another winter day for the city's public works department.

After a large snowfall such as that one, the city crew hauls the downtown snow to the fairgrounds, where it is stockpiled, according to Merle Meece, public works supervisor. Once it melts, debris consisting of mainly rocks is removed from the grounds.

"Bigger towns will leave it on the downtown streets," Meece said.

While residents have been cooperating with snow removal, Meece said there's still a long season to go.

Snow isn't removed from the streets every day, Meece said, and crews don't go out unless there is at least 2 inches of snowfall, he said.

"I have had to bend that this year," Meece said.

The city seldom goes out to push out the sludge left on the streets, he explained, but that will change in the spring.

"If it becomes a hazard we'll go out there and do it," he said. "It'll be my call later in the season."

However, every morning at 5 a.m., a worker will go out and check the streets and sand them if needed, Meece explained.

It gets expensive to operate snow removal equipment on a regular basis, Meece explained. Some municipalities have a policy stating that roads must be cleared down to the pavement, but that isn't the case in Perham, Meece explained.

"It gets very costly to run those trucks," Meece said. "We do sand every day to keep intersections safe."

The city runs three dump trucks, one grater, one pay loader and one four-wheel-drive pickup to clean the city streets and the airport. Meece said it takes up to five hours to clear the city streets and sidewalks after 3 inches of snowfall.

Right now, the city is working on pushing back snow banks to prevent drifting on wide open streets such as those by the middle school. After that, public works will begin clearing corners to improve visibility as cars are turning, Meece said.

The city also works to keep fire hydrants clear. Meece asks that anyone that knows of one not cleared to call the city offices at 218-346-4455.