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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Snow, ice no match for Berlin team

(March 19, 2015) Three major winter storms struck Berlin in quick succession this winter, hammering the region in a frozen blanket of snow and ice.
The town’s water resources and public works teamed up in the snow-removal effort for the first time this year, and the results were startling. More often than not the streets were clear, the sidewalks shoveled, and parking lots, like area shops, were open for business.
Public Works Superintendent Wendell Purnell said the team-up led to an impressive “combination effort” from both departments.
“It’s better for us because water resources takes care of east side and we take care of the west side,” Purnell said. “It’s a lot easier on all of us.”
Water Resources and Public Works Director Jane Kreiter said the agencies “wanted to make sure the parking lots were cleared off and the sidewalks are ready for people to park in them.”
“It lets us do other things we haven’t done in the past like clearing the snow off of Main Street so that businesses can open,” Kreiter said. “Normally that’s State Highway and we don’t mess with that, but we’ve been going up there with shovels and making sure. It may be a snow event, but Berlin is not closed.”
During the most recent storm, on March 5, crews battled the elements for nearly 30 hours.
“All together we were here on the job from 7 o’clock Thursday morning until 12 o’clock Friday,” Purnell said.
Kreiter said the employees averaged 25-30 hours during each event this winter, with crews on snow patrol riding in pairs in order to keep each other awake.
“They’ll say, ’hey it looks like you need a break. Let’s switch,’” Kreiter said. “It’s always the buddy system. That’s the only way to keep it safe.”
The long shifts also means workers spend as much as two days apart from their families, something that can admittedly be difficult.
“It’s tough,” public works employee Ricky Dennis said. “Most of the time [your family] will call to check on you and make sure you’re okay.”
What’s more, Kreiter said often times the effort does not end when workers get home.
“They’re all here taking care of the town, shoveling driveways and sidewalks and driving plows, and then they have to go home and do it theirs too,” she said.
The remainder of March appears to be free and clear of more winter storms, but the team is bracing themselves anyway, just in case.
“You can never predict March,” Wendell said. “It’s about gone, but it’s always possible.”
If the snow stays away the crews will focus on bulk clean up and park maintenance, and turn their eyes towards the onslaught of town events that begin in April of each year.
If not, they say, the work will still get done.
“We don’t lose much ground on anything because most of the time we work at night,” Purnell said.
Human Resources Director Jeff Fleetwood praised all of the town staff that helped during snow removal during a mayor and council meeting on March 9.
“Not once did I hear a complaint from an employee who was out, whether they were out in the cold pushing snow, whether they were out pulling somebody from a ditch, not once did I hear a complaint,” he said. “My hat’s off to the employees for that.”