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South Valley Journal

The jobs of winter

Feb 21, 2017 11:19AM ● By Tiffany Webb

LaMar Mitchell, Riverton's streets department supervisor, drives a snowplow truck. (Riverton City Communications)

By Tiffany Webb | [email protected]
When snow starts to fall, there are people like LaMar Mitchell and KC Skinner who are preparing the snow filled streets for a safe commute for drivers in Riverton.
A typical snowplow day for Mitchell, streets department supervisor, and Skinner, streets department assistant supervisor, starts the day before or the night before the storm hits. They can be found up nearly every hour or two checking the weather throughout the night before they start to plow. Mitchell and Skinner will figure out which type of streets they must plow—the main streets or the secondary streets.
According to Mitchell, the schools are taken care of first.
“We come to work to see how bad it is, then call all of the drivers and that starts our shift until everything is completely plowed,” Mitchell said. “The city is split up into four sections. It normally takes 12-plus hours to plow; that doesn’t include cul-de-sacs.”
However, according to Mitchell, they do have a policy in place for so many inches accumulated before they can plow cul-de-sacs.
Some of the duties and responsibilities Mitchell and Skinner have are to make sure all the equipment is ready for the snowstorms, to make sure there is enough salt ordered and is stockpiled and lastly, to contact everyone needed to plow.
Combating the snowfall is only half the job for Mitchell and Skinner. Asphalt road repairs and concrete sidewalk repairs are also part of their duties.
“When it gets warm and cold, we have potholes we have to maintain in the winter months.” Skinner said.
A unique feature to Riverton City is a brine-making machine that was built that Mitchell and Skinner use to make a salt solution. Skinner has made most of the equipment associated with the brine solution. According to Mitchell the benefit of having the brine solution is to create a barrier between the road and the new snow, and it makes cleaning up the snowy streets much easier.
“If we know the snow is coming, then we will usually go out and lay the brine solution down to the main roads, so it makes everything a bit easier to clean up.” Skinner said. “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into snowplowing.”
Skinner said they have designated trucks set up to lay down the brine solution.
Most of the problems the snowplow drivers encounter are parked cars and trailers on the roads, people’s complaints when snow is plowed in front of their house, people trying to pass them while driving.
A couple things that Mitchell and Skinner would like winter drivers to know is to allow snow truck drivers more space and to understand that, much like semi trucks, it does take a lot longer for the plows to come to a stop, especially in the snowy conditions they tend to drive in.
“Give the snowplow trucks some space,” Michell said. “Many people don’t understand the room needed with the blade. It takes us longer to stop and give them plenty of room.”
Mitchell and Skinner said they enjoy their jobs year-round. When plowing the snow, they love knowing that family, friends and all other residents are getting to the places they need to more safely.
“A lot of times we plow, we get a lot of thumbs from people, and that helps to keep going.” Mitchell said.
“We have an eight-people crew, and they work so diligently, and with how many miles they have logged, they are really sincerely committed to doing a good job,” Angela Trammell, Riverton City’s Communication Manager said. “Even a minor storm, we are clocking almost a thousand miles.”
Riverton residents may report a problem, like a missed street, at