Snow continues to affect the region

By Tom Phelan
Region - posted Sun., Feb. 6, 2011
It’s not clear if the building collapse at Bosco Towing motivated the ardent snow-shovelers atop the roof at New England Energy Partners. From their vantage point, though, they could see emergency crews working on that demolished building across South Road. Photos by Tom Phelan.
It’s not clear if the building collapse at Bosco Towing motivated the ardent snow-shovelers atop the roof at New England Energy Partners. From their vantage point, though, they could see emergency crews working on that demolished building across South Road. Photos by Tom Phelan.

North central Connecticut seems to be literally collapsing from the raging winter weather.

The combined weight of significant snow multiple storms that came too close together has produced a rash of roof collapses in the area. On Jan. 27, several harness racing horses were trapped inside a barn at Lindy Farms in Somers when the roof gave out. All were extricated from the damaged structure, but two had to be euthanized because of the severity of their injuries. A third, Harness Racing Hall of Fame horse Moni Maker, survived the ordeal.

Enfield emergency personnel were quick to respond to the Retail Brand Alliance warehouse on Phoenix Avenue, where a section of the building’s roof caved in. Enfield Fire Chief Ed Richards said the section measured about 80 feet by 40 feet.

On South Road in Enfield, the building that houses Bosco Towing experienced more than just roof damage last week. The entire structure came crashing down, reportedly moments after several workers there left the building.

Also collapsing in a different sense are towns’ snow removal budgets. The Town of Enfield has budgeted $200,000 to cover the cost of overtime clocked by its DPW snowplow drivers and staff this fiscal year. There is another $84,000 in the budget for snow plowing services by outside contractors. Add to those figures $241,000 for materials, such as sand, salt and calcium chloride, and the total money earmarked for dealing with Mother Nature this winter is $525,000.

Very near the end of January, the Enfield town manager’s office gave the town council an update on the money spent so far to clear snow from the 181 miles of Enfield roads and town-owned parking lots. As of that date, Enfield had spent $135,868 for both overtime and contractor services. Materials used in the snow removal process had already eaten up $125,065.

So, with the winter months of December and virtually all of January behind it, the town had consumed just a shade less than 50 percent of its budget allocation for snow removal. January roared right into February with a significant snowfall that canceled two more days of school, as the DPW crews and contractors labored hard to keep the roads clear enough to travel.

If we continue to have these frequent and intense storms over the next two months, then I would say that a transfer would be required,” said Enfield Town Manager Matt Coppler. “At the present time, I would not know where the funds would be transferred from if we exceeded the budget.”

By contrast, during the last fiscal year, Enfield budgeted $336,000 for overtime and contractor services. But the winter was less severe in 2010, and the town made it through the year spending only $95,899 on its own employee overtime and services provided by outside contractors. A much greater portion of the materials budget was consumed – just over $194,000 of the $255,000 budgeted.

These figures are included respectively under the overtime, snow plowing and maintenance and building supplies line items within the highway budget.

The East Windsor Public Safety Group issued an advisory on the town website, telling all residents and business owners that they should take reasonable safety precautions. They recommend cleaning all vents and exhausts exiting the exterior of buildings, citing carbon monoxide as a potential deadly threat. They also suggested clearing roofs and gutters as much as possible, as well as all flat or low sloping roofs.

East Windsor was about halfway through it $33,000 budget allotment after the first serious snow event of January. When the following storm crashed into town last week, the balance went below $10,000.

Schools have now been closed in area towns for so many days that Enfield, Somers and East Windsor are taking a second look at their calendars.

Somers has moved its planned year-end closing date from June 14, but has not set a new date. School Supt. Dr. Maynard M. Suffredini has issued a letter to parents. “At this time we are hoping that we do not need to utilize any vacation time either in February or April as makeup days,” he said. “[H]owever, should more severe storms occur which require us to close school . . . we may end up having to utilize some vacation time.” A teacher work day in March might also revert to a regular school day.


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