Weather the storm with 400 tons of salt


Although there are no final figures as to the cost of last weekend’s three snowstorms, the fact that Old Man Winter dumped nearly 18 inches of snow in Johnston resulted in several glaring numbers.

“We used tons of our special salt and sand mix on our roads,” said Arnie Vecchione, director of Johnston’s Department of Public Works. “We don’t as yet have a dollar figure as to what the storms actually cost, but the bottom line is the people are safe and were free from injuries and accidents.”

According to Vecchione, the storms “resulted in [DPW] crews using about 350 to 400 tons of salt and sand mix on our roads.”

Vecchione also noted that “we had a couple of breakdowns, but nothing significant, and there were no injuries – just weary employees – and I’m proud of each and everyone here at the DPW; our people did a great job handling these storms, just as they always do no matter what the conditions.”

Johnston’s roads were kept as safe as possible, given that conditions in some areas were almost impossible, especially during the first storm that started early Friday morning, resulted in periods when one to three inches of snow fell per hour. However, there were several factors why there were no resulting mishaps.

“The first and most important was that we didn’t have any school buses on the road,” Vecchione said. “The fact that school was cancelled was a plus; that enabled all the plows to keep up with the fast-falling snow as much as possible. It makes it harder to plow when [school] buses are on the roads.”

He also reported that there were a total of 26 plows working around the clock, given the occasional blizzard-like conditions. The total number of plows included DPW equipment and private snow plowing vendors that do business with the town.

Vecchione said the first snow storm total was 11.2 inches and the next two resulted in an additional five inches. However, Johnston’s storm team, which included everyone from Mayor Joseph Polisena to Vecchione and DPW workers, refused to buckle and kept up with the snow as much as possible.

Vecchione was in constant contact with Polisena, who was also on patrol in his town vehicle through much of the storms, to ensure there were not any major problems.

“I’m very proud of our DPW and Police Department for how they handled the snowstorms,” said Mayor Polisena. “As usual, the men and women who work in our DPW did a phenomenal job. I’m proud of what they all did, especially with the drifting and blowing that made their jobs more difficult than usual.”

Polisena added that officers even extended extra courtesies to residents who didn’t adhere to the parking ban.

“Our police personnel even knocked on doors to see if people who still had cars parked in the street were home,” he said. “That’s exceptional…after all, Deputy Chief Dan Parrillo has the special EMA telephone message network so residents were aware of the parking ban.”

Polisena was accompanied by Chief of Staff Doug Jeffrey, and added, “Our unsung heroes who worked very hard given the conditions,” but he did drive throughout the town at various times to make sure there were no problems.

At one point, Vecchione even drove a plow to give some staffers a break, as conditions forced the DPW staff to work around the clock.

That was also the case with Johnston School Department workers, who also were credited with doing a great job keeping entranceways to all facilities accessible as freezing temperatures resulted in snow and ice-covered walkways.

“We sometimes get complaints that people say the plow only made one pass,” Polisena said. “We have 175 miles of roads we have to maintain, and with conditions like last weekend that’s not easy. The plows make an initial pass for emergency vehicles, then they come back to push snow to the curb.” Cutlines for pix on sheets slugged 02-13-17 958


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