Plows, cops out early Tuesday

Craig road and bridge director: 'Every plow truck I have is on the streets'

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Craig residents awoke Tuesday morning to a white blanket of snow that covered the valley floor with inches of fluffy powder.

For city of Craig Road and Bridge Director Randy Call, the day began much sooner.

"We got out about 4:30 a.m.," Call said. "Every plow truck I have is on the streets."

Call's fleet includes six plow trucks, two motor-graders and two pick-up trucks.

The drivers of those vehicles work at removing snow from the city streets until they are clear, or the drivers need rest.

"We go until it stops," Call said. "After about 16 hours, we stop and give the drivers some rest, if the snow lasts that long."

If a snowstorm continues, drivers will get some sleep and start again in the morning.

Each driver is assigned specific routes to clear, with top priorities being schools, the hospital and the heavily used "collector" streets, such as First, Sixth and Seventh streets, and Finley Lane.

The motor-graders attend to the gravel streets around the city, and the two pick-up trucks handle the dead-end streets and the cul-de-sacs.

The city also has a list of senior citizens, disabled and handicapped persons whose driveways will be cleared of the windrows left by city plows, Call said.

Snowplow drivers were not alone in being kept busy because of the first big storm of the year.

The high number of accidents reported to the Craig Police Department on Tuesday morning caused Police Chief Walt Vanatta to begin steps for implementing a new procedure.

"We are going to adopt an accident alert policy because there were so many accidents this morning," Vanatta said. "I'm looking at the Steamboat Springs' policy, and we'll model it after that."

Vanatta said weather conditions caused an overwhelming number of reported accidents, which kept officers busy all morning.

The accident alert plan will have dispatchers at the police department telling persons involved in accidents to exchange information, and set a time to meet at the police station to file an accident report -- if no one is injured, and if no alcohol is involved.

If a vehicle is disabled, or alcohol or injuries are involved in the accident, police will respond as soon as possible to the scene, Vanatta said.

With six accidents reported before noon Tuesday, the police chief had some words of advice for drivers.

"People need to recognize that it's winter and to drive with care," he said. "I would also remind drivers with four-wheel drive that you may go faster in snow, but you don't stop any better because you have four-wheel drive."

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