Butler County Engineer
Greg Wilkens is getting his snowfighters team ready for the upcoming
winter with two annual events designed to sharpen road crew skills
and improve Countywide efficiency.
The BCEO will host
a Regional Snow Summit next Thursday, October 22, 2009 from 9:00
a.m. until 12:00 noon at the Engineer's Office. Wilkens' goal
is to bring public safety and snow and ice control officials
together to help facilitate better organization among agencies
during severe winter weather events. Those gathered will learn,
discuss, and work to better organize winter operations, policies,
and procedures. Some of the topics on the agenda include snow
advisory communications, dispatch and notification procedures,
fire and police operations, as well as Weather Tap, Butler
County's new real-time weather service.
Attending the Summit
will be management teams and supervisors who play a role in winter
weather operations for the County, cities, townships, and various
other agencies, including the Red Cross, Police and Fire Chiefs
Associations, and representatives from local school districts.
Prior to last year's
Summit, Wilkens' stated that the primary purpose is to ensure
that everyone is on the same page. "We hope to build a more
efficient model for Countywide snow and ice control based on
intra-agency cooperation and saving tax dollars. There may be
some crossover of responsibilities among agencies or there may
be some gaps that need to be covered. We want to explore everything."
An open forum discussion
will follow a series of short presentations by various speakers,
- Greg Wilkens, Butler
- Scott Bressler, BCEO
- Jeff Galloway, Director,
Butler County EMA
- Captain R. A. Greer,
Butler County Sheriff's Office
- Richard St. John and
Phil Clark, Police / Fire Chiefs Associations
- Diana Clonch and Abner
Johnson, Ohio Department of Transportation
- Nicholas Hollan, American
Red Cross - Cincinnati Chapter
The Snowfighters Truck
Roadeo will get under way the following week. During this event
snow plow drivers from cities and townships throughout Butler
County will join BCEO crews for three days of in-class training
sessions, sharing of ideas and procedures, and the actual roadeo
competition. The competition provides an opportunity for crews
to practice truck maneuvers through an obstacle course designed
to simulate actual winter situations.
"It's a good opportunity
for our snow plow drivers to hone in on their skills, develop
good safety practices, and familiarize themselves with their
trucks," Wilkens said. "It also provides the means
to interact with fellow drivers and work on their skills together."
The entire ROADEO program
will run three days starting October 28. Training and review
will begin the program with BCEO snow plow drivers running the
roadeo course to wrap up on Friday. In between, crews will perform
salt box and plow installations, clean and ready their trucks
for winter, and do a dry run of their routes.
"The better prepared
we are the safer we will be when the snow begins to fly,"
said Operations Deputy Scott Bressler who is coordinating the
Snow Summit and ROADEO event. Last year, 5,320 tons of salt were
spread on the 275 miles of County-maintained roads. This is slightly
below average despite a period of heavy snow and ice storms in
late January and early February, due in part to curtailing salt
usage because of a nationwide road salt shortage.
The Butler County Engineer's
Office awarded its salt contract last April to North American
Salt Company which submitted a low bid of $62.01 per ton. That
is the earliest Wilkens' agency has ever awarded a salt contract
for the following winter season. "Salt shortages the past
couple of years have dictated that we move early in an effort
to get the best pricing," he said. "We've been very
fortunate to avoid the exhorbitant costs incurred by other agencies
around the region. It is our understanding however that salt
should be more plentiful this year, although we will still want
to use it wisely and efficiently."
There are currently
6,000 tons of road salt now piled in the BCEO's salt barn --
enough to last through an average winter.