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Cities in Crawford County are working to keep streets safe

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
The Crawford County Court House seen Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, is framed by untouched now. Van Buren received up to 5 inches, leaving many facilities closed and street departments working to clear the roads.

As the snow fell this week, city workers across Crawford County have worked to keep the streets safe and clear.

John Karstens, Street Department manager in Van Buren, has had three snowplows working since early Sunday, Feb. 14. With the below-freezing temperatures, frozen roads made the job more difficult, he said.

"The main focus is getting all primary streets cleared much as possible while starting on secondary streets while waiting for it to thaw out. Once it starts thawing we will be trying to get it off the primary streets first," said Karstens.

Side streets have been a challenge as cars parked on the side of the road present a safety hazard for the snowplows.

"We were prepared pretty good for this but the below-zero, freezing temps wasn’t to our advantage," said Karstens.

Mark Yardley, director of Public Works in Alma, says that after the snow is packed down by vehicles it's harder for the snowplow to remove it.

"The plow was able to scrape closer to the pavement today as the sun begins to melt the snow," said Yardley on Feb. 18.

Alma sand

As of Thursday, Alma had a shortage of sand for the roads. The quarry that provides the sand had been closed due to the weather. Yardley said they have focused on what remains of their sand for bridges and slopes around the city.

The City of Alma also opened its community building for anyone that needed warm shelter during the snowstorm.

"The temperature along with the windchill has made this a very dangerous situation, so anyone in the Alma area struggling to stay warm is welcome to seek shelter at the Community Building," said an announcement on their Facebook page.

"The low temperatures broke 100-year records," said Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap. "It has definitely been a challenge. I’m proud of our services and the efforts they have put forward to keep our public safe."