Since our wonderful weekend snowfall, it has been my intention to sit down and write an entry on snow. I grew up in New Orleans and snow is still a remarkable event for me. I wanted to be poetic and talk about snow from so many different angles.

Each time I sat down, I realized I had to go shovel a little more here, a little more there. I did this for three days!!!!!! And, when I came back in, cold, wet, tired, there was not a bit of poetry left in my body. I just sat!

So, at the end of this entry, I will simply paste the information I received from the town. All in all, our public works crew did a tremendous job clearing the snow from the roads. I received many compliments from citizens who came into contact with town workers. When questions were asked and requests made, our public works crews responded to our citizens in positive and helpful ways. So, if you see a public works employee, thank them for a job well done.

Before the New Year I hope to look back on 2009 with some thoughts. As we begin 2010, I will complete the promised entry on our new council members, a little about their background, and the unique talents each brings to council. And then I hope to look forward to 2010 and give a preview of some of the issues that I think will be discussed next year.

If you celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas to you. If not, I wish you a happy and safe holiday.

From a town report on the “Snow Event” :

December 18th-20th Snow Storm

During the weekend of December 18th the Town received approximately 13 inches of snow. This was one of the largest snow events in several years. On Wednesday, as the weather forecasts began to predict large amounts of snow during the storm, Town Departments began to make preparations. Departments began looking at staffing plans, preparing vehicles, and making arrangements for employees that would not be able to make it home during the storm

As the snow started to fall on Friday, crews from the Public Works Department began to plow and salt the streets. The staff was challenged because of the large number of vehicles on the roads due to commuters and visitors for Virginia Tech’s winter graduation ceremony. The department used twelve trucks to plow Town roads beginning Friday afternoon through Sunday. Approximately 1300 staff hours were committed to ensuring the roads and sidewalks were clear and accessible. The amount of material used is staggering: 275 tons of salt, 400 gallons of liquid calcium, and 273 tons of stone. Public Works staff worked 24 hours a day throughout the weekend to ensure roads and sidewalks remained clear. In addition, this week following the storm crews removed snow from in front of storm drain inlets to allow melting snow to drain into the drainage system to prevent ponding and possible black ice on the road. The Public Works Department is currently monitoring the forecast for the end of this week and the weekend.

Blacksburg Transit began to reduce service Friday afternoon as the snowfall intensified. To ensure all passengers received a return trip home BT staff worked until about 8:00pm. This is normal operating procedure because many passengers don’t have access to the website and/or listen to the radio or television for immediate changes in service. As the weather worsened buses returned to the garage from routes and operations staff remained on routes using SUV’s to make sure everyone was picked up and dropped off safely. BT also remained open until 8:00pm Friday because of the Virginia Tech graduation ceremony held on campus. Another example of why BT remained in operation on Friday night was an Access passenger who had to remain at Virginia Tech until after 7pm because of being designated an essential staff member. BT remained closed Saturday and Sunday due to the weather conditions. Staff was on call if needed for any type of emergency. Two staff members cleared snow at all of the major bus stops with shelters on Sunday. Beginning on Monday, break service was provided while additional staff continued to plow and clear bus stops to ensure the safety of passengers. Buses were rerouted in some areas because utility companies were blocking certain roads while making storm related repairs. Buses were also rerouted because of parked cars in the road next to snow.

The Blacksburg Police Department responded to 29 accidents and 33 disabled vehicles on Friday night and Saturday. In addition to patrol officers assisting motorists on Friday evening, several members of the command staff assisted with calls for service throughout the evening. Communications personnel fielded numerous calls/inquiries relative to road conditions while also answering calls for assistance and maintaining radio communications with police, fire and rescue personnel.

Many residents in the community were very complementary of how Town staff responded to the snow storm. This is one example of many that occur throughout the year of the commitment staff has to Blacksburg and the residents. I wish to extend my gratitude to everyone who assisted this past weekend.