Entries Tagged 'snow removal' ↓

The changing story about snow gates



The above picture was sent to me by a reader that told me they didn’t even bother dropping the snow gate on his driveway, but did across the street. They also didn’t do a very good job on my driveway, my berm was over a foot high, while my neighbors had less, with longer driveways. I guess the snow plow drivers are determining who gets snow gate service thru the eeny-meeny-miney-mo process. That’s not how we wrote the ballot initiative AND now I am wondering what the consequences if an operator isn’t attempting to do it right? In other cities if the gates are not done right you can call into public works and they will come and clean it for you. There are some factors here to consider, the operators are paid an hourly wage, in other words if they have to slow down a bit, it is not going to affect their workload. Something else I like to remind people that the end of your driveway is OWNED by the city, clearing the streets IMO is no different then taking care of the curb. The Public Works department encourages residents to call them if they missed your driveway, so they can assess the situation.

There has often been an argument from the Public Works department that they really don’t work as well on long driveways and snows over 6 inches, which I find to be misleading.

Just yesterday I witnessed (below graphic) a snowplow operator kind of put that argument to shame. As I was sitting at the light on 49th street waiting to merge onto Western Ave. two snowplows going South on Western passed by. The first one had no snow gate, the second did, and he dropped it across 5 lanes of traffic (hardly slowing down) and I didn’t see any snow come over the snow gate until he was almost all the way across. As we said while doing research on snow gates across the country, they work on long driveways and in deep snow, now if our Public Works department will just choose to use them properly and often.


When snow gates don’t work it’s operator error

Once again, the half-ass TV news in our town is trying to claim snow gates don’t work. Well they do, it’s like any mechanical device, when operated properly it works. It would be like me taking a shotgun back to the store and asking for a refund because though I shot at the pheasants, I never killed any. Never mind the fact that I haven’t hunted in over 20 years and couldn’t aim to save my life.

Take for instance this last snowfall. During the first snowfall, the snowplow operator nailed my driveway, this time around, not so much. It appears they dropped it for a brief moment and lifted it back up right away. Still not complaining, better then the 2 foot berm I had before. Only took me about 5 scoops to clean out.


People, this comes down to using them properly. I have seen a ton of video footage of snowplow operators using snow gates in other communities ‘properly’ and they work. In one video the snowplow didn’t even slow down, and nailed the gate in about 10 inches of snow past a double driveway.

It’s going to take time and experience from the operators to get better at it. If you have any recommendations or complaints you can call the Public Works department at 367-8255.

In other news, the Kings Fishers are putting up a funny billboard in town. Thanks Mayor Mike for politicizing this.


Councilor Erpenbach grasping at straws over snowgates

Like the Drake Springs pool vote, it seems some on the city council just can’t stand the fact that citizens passed snow gates. Like Drake Springs*, they need to get over it and move on. Like I told a person yesterday, I didn’t vote for the Events Center, but the citizens said they wanted it, so it is what it is, all I can do now is make sure the facility is ran properly, and the councilors should do the same about snow gates. Huber put on a great presentation that was factual, positive and forthright, and all Rolfing and Erpenbach did was grasp at straws about snow gates usefulness. Michelle even went as far as saying it might potentially affect real estate values. She mentioned that people on the end of the block may not get as good of service as people in the middle, and somehow in her crazy reasoning, this would affect home prices on corner lots. (Actual Presentation, starts at 1:04)

WOW. Michelle has said some pretty ridiculous things, but this takes the cake. It also shows how little she knows about real estate and should concern us that she is voting on affordable housing issues and planning and zoning.

First thing I was told when I was looking for my first home, “Don’t buy a corner lot.” They are notorious for more sidewalk to scoop, more yard to mow, more trees to trim, and you are responsible for scooping the sidewalk ends. Some people like corner lots, but they are known for more maintenance, this isn’t some real estate secret, and certainly, snowgates are not going to change these facts.

Michelle and Rex need to accept the vote of the people, and move on, snow gates are a part of city ordinance passed by the citizenry by over 70% of the vote. Stop crying about them.

*Actually, ironically, it is good thing citizens voted for an outdoor pool at Nelson Park, since the Aquatics Consultant the city hired said due to groundwater issues at the park, an indoor pool at that location would have had maintenance issues.

Using Winter Wonderland as an example for separation of church and state


As I was pondering the snow plow issue and all the crazy letters to the editor of people defending the violation of the establishment clause (because, you know, none of these people would be willing to paint Jesus Christ on the sides of their vehicles, well within their 1st Amendment rights, but defend it on government property). It reminded me of a discussion about what to name ‘Winter Wonderland’ when first proposed during the Munson administration. I remember there was a brief discussion when naming it, I think one of the suggestions was ‘Christmas at the Falls’. Not sure who got involved (City Attorney?) but I fondly remember someone within city government recommending it takes on a generic term not associated with a religious holiday. Smart move.

So what does this have to do with Jesus plows? It seems there are people who are intelligent enough about Constitutional law that work for the city (or worked for them at one time) to know you can’t cross that line while using tax dollars. So Huether shouldn’t act so surprised that this has become an issue. Of course, Huether knew nothing about local government or history of it until he started to run for mayor. History isn’t his strong suit.

As for the display itself, While I think it is a great idea, I think it could be done differently. Other cities do similiar displays but they have businesses volunteer the expense and labor and use it as an opportunity for teambuilding around Christmas. Workers and their families of the businesses that donate volunteer their time to set up the display then the city foots the bill of the electricity. They do have sponsors, but city employees do all the set-up. In fact, mostly public works department workers from the forestry division begin assembling the display starting October 1st. Which I find ironic in itself. One time when I questioned the city about project TRIM and why the city’s forestry department just didn’t trim trees that residences couldn’t reach in the boulevard, they replied, “We don’t have enough staff or enough time.” But taking almost two months to put up Christmas lights, plenty of time for. Just imagine how many trees could be trimmed in that same time period?

Once again, the city proves it’s priorities towards citizens and the law.


Is our local media being negative about snowgates?

As you read different media outlets about snowgates, you will detect some pessimism about there usage;


Some say they worked great and made for easier snow removal over the weekend. Others say they’re still dealing with a big ridge of snow.


But some homeowners complained they weren’t very effective after yesterday’s snowfall and had to clear away some snow from their driveways.

After a friend of mine called Mark Cotter, the Director of Public Works today, he admitted that there is a ‘learning curve’ when it comes to the devices, and that some neighborhoods they missed some driveways. But he said he has received over 30 phone calls from people praising them and that they hardly had to remove any snow after they passed.

I figured this first snowfall there would be some shortfalls with them, but as they are used more, the drivers will get more proficient. It seems the biggest issue was that they don’t work, but they were not applied in some places.

So why is the media and public already whining they don’t work after only ONE real use in the entire city? Did you learn how to drive a car on your first spin around the neighborhood? Nope. And I don’t expect the snowplow operators to get down the devices on the first go around. Patience, Grasshopper, Patience.

Cotter plans to have a press conference today talking about them.

Snowgates, good reviews.


Have had some soldiers reports, and they are all good. They have even been using them on intersections. YEAH!

Have Coke and a Smile


UPDATE: Compromise on Snowplows?

They are going to use a disclaimer. Sorry, but this won’t hold up in court. Huether give it up.

Here is a copy of the letter the attorney from Freedom From Religion Foundation sent to the city attorney: Freedomfromreligion

As you can see, he states several cases that show this is unconstitutional.


A little inspirational reading for the mayor (click to enlarge):




Heck, with a snowplow like this, the snow would melt at impact!

As any intelligent person that understands the US Constitution and 1st Amendment, and Jon Arneson would know, you can see where this is headed;

Arneson believes having those painting on city property puts the City into a corner where, by law, it would be seen as an endorsement of religion. He says U.S. Supreme Court rulings dealing with religion and government over the past 30 years support that.


I guess we are supposed to hear a resolution today from the city, I suspect if we don’t hear one by the weekend, that the city decided to quietly paint over the plow blades. We will see. I did notice it is already circulating the national news that our Mayor is Constitutionally inept. There was a blurb about it in the USA Today.



Sioux Falls ODDS & ENDS

After listening to the podcast version of Mayor Huether’s interview on Belfrage’s show yesterday, I noticed that the mayor said some interesting ‘OTHER’ things.

When he was talking about the snow plow issue he mentioned that the city doesn’t want to become ‘lawsuit happy’. I about chocked on my water. This is a guy who is having his attorney’s office criminally charge and arrest people for storing building materials in their yard. I would have to say the city is VERY lawsuit happy.

He then talks about how the Events Center has had ‘record sales’ since it has opened. Huh? How do you break record when there is no record to break. While I think it is great the place (mostly contractors and promoters) are making money, I think saying we are breaking records is a little far-fetched. Beating projections would be a more honest statement.

He also mentions the city has big plans for Van Eps Park now that it is a dry park, but he didn’t expand, just told listeners to be watching for them next year. I heard he is erecting a large Coca-Cola bottle in the park with a crucifix floating inside.

Lastly, once again he can’t resist taking credit for snow gate implementation. Mike, the voters of Sioux Falls implemented snow gates, not you, get over yourself. He also mentions that snow gates may not always be used depending on the snowfall, around that 6-10” range. As I understand it, if we get a heavy wet snow, they don’t work well, and it would probably be wise NOT to use them. But if it is a normal dry light snow, they can be used up to 20-30”. I also heard not only will they not be used on emergency snow routes, that the secondary routes may be ignored to.


I noticed in the Sioux Falls Business Journal a blurb about Lloyd Companies and Hegg teaming up to build a $45 million dollar apartment complex in Minot, ND in the Bakken Region. Surprise! Surprise! I wonder who will be investing with them and if they got any TIFs?

Arc of Dreams

I see the Arc of Dreams has raised $480,000 so far which is great! I hope they fund this project totally privately, and pass their fundraising skills on to the mayor’s wife so she can pay for own damn indoor tennis center.

As I understand it the project is being built on private land. But I found it a little strange that they have already hit half their fundraising goal and haven’t approached the Planning Commission or the CORP of Engineers for permission to build. As I understand from an engineering standpoint, the counter balance in the ground will have to be enormous. I will be shocked if 1) They can build this for $900K and 2) that they don’t ask tax payers to contribute. Stay tuned. The two guys heading up this project are behind BibleWalk, uh I mean SculptureWalk downtown, I expect them to be extending their hands at a council meeting very soon.

UPDATE: Why is the city hiring a broker/consultant to purchase snow gates?

UPDATE: At the council informational today, Public Works director, Mark Cotter explained that 4 bids were put out and that Titan was the lowest and Henke was the highest, even though Titan is purchasing the gates from Henke. We will be paying aproximately $6,750 a piece for the snowgates. I also found out that the city will own all the gates and loan them out to any private contractor that will be using them. I guess some private contractors have agreed to use them, so that is good news.
It was disappointing during the meeting that Rolfing had to make a big deal about how much there usage will cost us and demanded that Cotter gets the council that information in the near future. Ironic, even though an indoor pool wasn’t even on the ballot, when the outdoor pool failed at Spellerberg, the council and mayor felt they had to ramrod the project threw because the voters have spoken. Well, kind of. Yet snow gates pass by a landslide (which were actually on the ballot) and all of a sudden Rolfing is concerned about the cost of there usage. In Rolfing’s mind fiscal prudence only applies to public services like snow removal, but when it comes to unneeded recreation, spend, spend, spend away.
I’m no expert on items listed on the consent agenda but it would seem the city is using an outside company to acquire snow gates;
(Consent Agenda) Hydraulically Operated End Gates (Snow Gates) – Titan Machinery – $ 215,700
I find this a little disheartening, because during the snow gate petition drive, organizer, Stehly got confirmation from Henke (the superior snow gate manufacturer) to offer a discount and training to the snowplow operators in SF if they got awarded the bid. Are they so busy in Public Works that not one single person in the department could get bids and purchase snow gates directly from the manufacturer? We now have to have a middle man? That is SF city government for you, consultant happy. I have often wondered why we even have city directors and employees, we might as well just hire consultants to do all the heavy lifting for us. Imagine the millions we would save in salaries and benefits for all of these overpaid directors and middle managers.