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Still digging out across county

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Heavy equipment from the DPW is used to remove large amounts of snow from the town common in Greenfield following the weekend storm NEMO<br/>

    Recorder/Peter MacDonald
    Heavy equipment from the DPW is used to remove large amounts of snow from the town common in Greenfield following the weekend storm NEMO

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Buried Parking Meters Main St Greenfield Monday.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Buried Parking Meters Main St Greenfield Monday.

  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.

    Photo Credit Kurt Wolter
    The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.

  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.

    Photo Credit Kurt Wolter
    The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.

  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>Three greenhouses belonging to Harvest Farms of Whately fared poorly in the weekend's storm.

    Photo Credit Kurt Wolter
    Three greenhouses belonging to Harvest Farms of Whately fared poorly in the weekend's storm.

  • Recorder/Peter MacDonald<br/>Heavy equipment from the DPW is used to remove large amounts of snow from the town common in Greenfield following the weekend storm NEMO<br/>
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Buried Parking Meters Main St Greenfield Monday.
  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.
  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>The interior of one of three Harvest Farms of Whately greenhouses that caved under the pressure of snow and wind during the weekend storm.
  • Photo Credit Kurt Wolter <br/>Three greenhouses belonging to Harvest Farms of Whately fared poorly in the weekend's storm.

While most hunkered down for the storm Friday night, Greenfield resident Terri Kerner reached for her skis and, leaving her Leyden Road home at 9:30 p.m., made the two-mile trek in time for the 11 p.m. start of her night shift in the maternity ward at Baystate Franklin Medical Center on High Street.

Lucy Fagella, Kerner’s partner, wrote in to share the story.

Having skied home again at the 7 a.m. end of her shift, Fagella said Kerner reported one baby born overnight, the parents arriving by ambulance in the nick of time with a plow escort at the height of the storm.

Kerner wished to thank the plow crews, emergency medical technicians and maternity nurses.

Jai Streeter, the baby’s father, also thanks all involved for their prompt response in a very tight time line.

“By the time we got to the hospital it only took eight minutes for the baby to be born,” Streeter said.

Streeter said the Fire Department and an ambulance responded within minutes to his call, preceded by a plow clearing the way for the emergency vehicles in the as-yet unplowed Greenfield Gardens parking lot. Baystate Health Ambulance whisked Streeter and girlfriend Olive Miskolczi from 10 Pray Drive to the hospital, where she gave birth to Travis Newton Streeter around 2:45 a.m.

Travis will be nicknamed Nemo in honor of the storm, the elder Streeter said.

Greenfield Fire Capt. Andrew Garvin said he wasn’t on duty during the call, but it is usual procedure to call the Department of Public Works plow crews as needed during a storm.

Monday, much of the snow was gone from roads and sidewalks, but enough remained to mix with the unfortunate medley of snow, rain and ice that fell during the first half of the day.

Greenfield Director of Public Works Sandra Shields said cleanup was ongoing Monday.

“It was obviously a very significant snowstorm and the biggest problem you run into is just where to put the snow,” Shields said. “The streets are narrow anyway and where to put the snow is the biggest problem.”

Shields said the department has been having issues with people pushing snow back into the street with snowblowers or plows, which she said is a fine-able offense and a safety hazard.

For those who have already dug out their driveways, there is more to come.

Shields said plows will be widening the streets in preparation for more snow possible at the end of the week.

The National Weather Service predicts a 30 percent chance of snow Saturday night and Sunday.

Snowfall from the weekend storm, measured at the towns’ wastewater treatment plant, came to 18.5 inches, Shields said, with another .6 inches falling Monday morning.

Cleanup is on track to cost in the range of $70,000, Shields said, and on top of the earlier snow storm and road treatment is straining the $200,000 snow and ice removal budget.

Sidewalk Ordinance lifted

In Greenfield, those who haven’t yet shoveled out their sidewalks have a reprieve from the threat of fines, $10 for a first offense, $25 for a second and $100 for third and subsequent offenses within a calendar year.

Mayor William Martin has temporarily suspended the town’s sidewalk clearing ordinance, which requires residents to remove ice and snow from sidewalks abutting their property within 24 hours after a storm’s end.

Martin continues to encourage property owners to “comply with the intent of the ordinance,” as soon as possible, for safety and access.

The suspension began on Monday and will be reviewed every morning at 11 a.m.

Martin said though residents are encouraged to clear their sidewalks, it is difficult for many to do so unless they were able to keep up with the accumulation during the storm.

“The actual fact is that it’s very difficult for a number of people so we’ve suspended it for 24 hours rather than fining people,” Martin said. “Just trying to take a little stress off the people. Between the driving and the walking and the shoveling and the roof warnings, it’s been pretty hectic for them.”

Warnings

State and federal agencies issued a slew of warnings, tips and requests following the storm.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency wished to remind residents to dress warmly, avoid overexertion and the potential for heart attacks while shoveling.

MEMA also asked that residents clear storm drains in their neighborhoods to reduce the risk of flooding caused by runoff from melting snow and rain.

The United States Postal Service issued a release asking residents to help keep their letter carriers safe by clearing their mailboxes, stairs and walkways of snow and ice.

“Letter carriers have suffered fractures, sprains and even ruptured knees from slipping on ice and snow,” reads the release.”Please protect them and other visitors from hazardous conditions.”

Homeowners on drive-up mail delivery routes are asked to clear enough snow from curb-side boxes to allow mail trucks to approach the box, deliver mail and leave safely without the need for backing.

The State Fire Marshall’s office asked residents to help themselves, their neighbors and their local fire department by keeping fire hydrants clear.

The office echoed MEMA’s recommendation, advising homeowners to keep outside furnace, hot water and dryer vents clear of snow to prevent the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from backed-up gasses.

Many warnings relate to downed wires and proper use of emergency generators but the power infrastructure was essentially spared locally. There was little or no loss of power in most Franklin County towns and no outages reported by either of the major utilities Monday.

MEMA issued a special release urging homeowners to be wary of storm cleanup scams, with the following tips from the State Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation:

∎  Avoid being pressured into hiring cleanup crews that appear in your neighborhood.

∎  Always get a proposal in writing, do not pay more than one-third of the cost up-front and do not pay in cash.

∎  Make sure to use a registered home improvement contractor or licensed professional to do work.

∎  Contractor registrations and histories can be looked up online at www.mass.gov/consumer.

∎  Electricians, plumbers and other professional licenses can be checked at www.mass.gov/dpl.

∎  Tree removers are not required to be licensed, so check with the Better Business Bureau <http://www.bbb.org/> to see if the company or individual has any complaints.

Greenhouse casualties

MEMA and others warned of the potential for roof collapse as the storm’s light, fluffy snow absorbed rain Monday, but Harvest Farm of Whately lost its roofs during the storm itself.

Employee Kurt Wolter said three of the farm’s 15 greenhouses were severely damaged.

David Wojciechowski, co-owner of the wholesale vegetable farm, said the structures collapsed during the middle of the night during the storm. Wojciechowski said the greenhouses are engineered and rated to withstand snow, not cheap prefabricated structures, and theorizes a downdraft may have contributed to the collapse.

Wojciechowski said the three were empty and while he considers two destroyed, one may be salvageable.

“We’re adjusting ourselves accordingly,” Wojciechowski said, adding the structures — all 35 feet wide, with two 144 feet and one 196 feet long — were uninsured but the youngest is ten years old and all are long-since paid off.

“It’s no big deal, I’ve had 20, 25 good years out of these,” he said.

The snow on the Long Plain Road property was between one and two feet in general, with drifts up to seven feet high, Wojciechowski said.

Everett M. Hatch on Plain Road in Greenfield, also lost a greenhouse during the storm.

“We lost one greenhouse, not surprising it was an old one that was aluminum framed and it just didn’t hold up,” Hatch said. The small greenhouse was home to a tractor, which was unhurt.

Hatch was unfazed by the loss. “Didn’t owe me a cent,” he said.

Monday accidents

While Monday’s precipitation slowed traffic on many roads, area emergency responders reported few and minor accidents.

In Greenfield, a 2007 Ford Focus became stuck in a snow bank off the French King Highway at 11:56 a.m. but was pulled out and apparently continued on its way with no injuries according to Greenfield police.

“We’ve lucked out, that’s for sure,” said Greenfield Lt. Todd Dodge, saying it appears drivers have been taking the appropriate precautions.

State police from all four barracks covering the area reported nothing.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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