Village employees Joel Crandall, left, Victor
Baxter, Harold Dunie Hamilton Jr. and Kent Harding taking
a break as more snow fell on Yellow Springs this week.
winter keeps road crew busy
Snow began falling early in the evening on Christmas Eve, just as villagers
were sitting down to their oyster stew or singing Joy to the World
in church. And the snow kept coming. It was a magical snow, silently blanketing
trees and homes as big-eyed children peered out windows.
But as children snuggled beneath covers and moms and dads sipped eggnog
before the fire, the falling snow led four Village employees to leave
their families and warm homes behind and come into the cold. Beginning
at 8 p.m., the members of the Village streets and sewer crew, Harold Dunie
Hamilton Jr., Joel Crandall, Kent Harding and Victor Baxtor, moved their
snow plows quietly up one Yellow Springs street and down another. It was
a heavy snow and a long nights work 13 straight hours of
When local residents
woke on Christmas morning, the streets were clear. And as families gathered
beneath Christmas trees to open their gifts, the road crew went home to
Because of heavy and consistent snowfall, its been that kind of
winter for the Village streets crew long, irregular hours, hard
work and little thanks. But the men take pride in their work and are even
willing to forgive those who take their clear streets for granted.
We go out at 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. and no one knows were here,
Baxter said. Then people get caught up in their day.
What the road guys like best is knowing how important their work is, how
theyre taking care of their town and the people theyve known
all their lives. Hamilton, Crandall and Baxter grew up in Yellow Springs,
and Harding moved here in high school.
The hardest part, they agreed in an interview last week, is the hours.
Youre on call 24 hours a day, Crandall said. You
never know when you have to go back.
It goes something like this after a full days work, Hamilton,
the crew leader, and the others, go to bed. But in the middle of the night
the snow begins falling, and police call Hamilton at home. Hell
call his crew, starting out with two plows but if the snow keeps coming,
hell call out all four.
So the road guys get up, get dressed, then head out to the Village Public
Works facility on State Route 343. Its a short drive for all but
Baxter, who lives in Kettering. They pick up their plows, then drive to
the Miami Township garage on Fairfield Pike to load up with salt, unless
they knew the snow was coming and had a chance to plan ahead. If theyre
only clearing snow, they use the rubber plow blades, but if its
ice, they have to use steel.
First the trucks two large ones and two small clear the
main roads, such as Xenia Avenue, Dayton Street, Corry, Limestone and
Fairfield Pike. Next they clear the streets that cross the main streets,
and finally, they do the plats. If its a school day coming up, theyll
head first to the schools and downtown area.
When the weather gets really bad and the snow piles up, the road guys
are sometimes backed up by other members of the Public Works crew.
Its a challenge to be first out in a snowstorm.
At night is the scariest part, Harding said. When those
big flakes are coming down, its hard to see.
The trucks vibrations make for a bouncy ride, and the road guys
need to take breaks every few hours to stand up and stretch. They drink
lots of coffee and sometimes roll down the window for a jolt of cold air.
Sometimes they listen to music R&B is a favorite and
Baxter likes to sing.
Whatever their trick for staying focused, the road guys give their work
You have to be very alert, Baxter said. Theres
a lot of eye-hand coordination. You have to be aware of the mirrors, pulling
the lever for the plow, doing the salt, maneuvering around cars. You have
to be aware of everything around you.
Obstacles to their work lurk everywhere parked and moving cars,
tree limbs, mail boxes. They have countless opportunities for accidents,
but havent had any for at least the last 15 years, Hamilton said.
But they do have frustrations, especially when villagers pull out right
in front of a snow plow or drive too closely behind, not realizing the
trucks often need to back up. Give us distance, Crandall said.
The crew also feels frustrated when villagers get upset because the trucks
push snow in their driveways. If snow has been piled up on the left of
the drive the trucks cant help pushing the snow into it, said Hamilton.
To avoid that situation, local residents can wait to shovel drives until
the streets are cleared, or they can dump their snow to the right of the
drive, where it wont get pushed back into the driveway.
But the road crews satisfactions outweigh their frustrations, which
may account for the groups longevity Hamilton has been clearing
streets for the Village almost 32 years, Crandall 23, Harding 19 and Baxter,
the frequently teased rookie, has worked five.
Working so closely together gives the men a sense of camaraderie, they
said, and they enjoy each others company.
We have fun moments, we have serious moments, Hamilton said.
Well work things through. Its a team atmosphere.
Mostly, though, the Village road crew continues to jump out of bed in
the middle of the night to clean off our streets because they have an
important job to do and they want to do it well.
We care about peoples safety, Baxter said. Thats
why were out here.
of two clears Miami Twp. roads
While the Village streets and sewer crew keeps village streets clear,
two Miami Township employees have also been working long and odd hours
to clear snow on roads outside of Yellow Springs.
Its been hectic, said Miami Township Road Superintendent
John Finn, who, along with employee Don Gochenhour, cleans off 13.5 miles
of township roads. Theres been a lot of overtime.
The two men use snowplows to clear off Snypp, Husted and East Hyde roads,
along with U.S. 68, to the village limits. They also clear Bryan Park
Road and Golden Willow Court, Finn said. Their responsibilities also include
maintaining the Clifton Cemetery along with digging graves for that cemetery.
While the two men try to limit themselves to 12-hour shifts, this years
wintry weather has sometimes led to 24-hour workdays, said Finn, who added
that in the past two weeks he worked 130 hours.