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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Workers adapt to changes in the weather

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

John Brown of Kennedy Roofing in Dexter works out in the cold at Plantation Acres Monday afternoon.
SIKESTON - As winter temperatures settle in, work continues for those charged with maintaining public property.

"The routine changes somewhat," said Tom Bridger, Sikeston's Public Works Department director, "but the majority of what we do is outdoors."

Except in extreme conditions, the city's street department continues to work outside, dressing warmer. What few indoor tasks there are the department saves for the worst weather.

"We've already prepared for snow removal," Bridger said. The city's spreaders have been loaded and tested, and snowplows have been inspected. "If something hits, the equipment is ready to go," he said.

Some of the city's activities such as leaf collection continue well into January and require plenty of manpower. "As long as it's not inclement weather, we're going to be out picking up the leaves as scheduled," Bridger said. "Currently were running on schedule."

With only three working days for the city, this week of leaf collection will be the biggest challenge so far this year. "If we make it through this week on schedule, we'll be sitting in pretty good shape," Bridger said.

Leaf collection is not just to keep the city looking nice - it is also important for the city's drainage. "It keeps the water off the streets," Bridger said. The department watches storm sewer inlets to make sure they don't get clogged with leaves or, as temperatures drop, freeze up, "even putting a little salt around the grates," Bridger said.

Working for the parks department also continues to be an outside job even in winter. "They dress warmer. They continue on with their normal duties," said Jiggs Moore, parks director. "Now when it gets bitterly cold with serious wind chills, then we look at inside work."

The changing seasons do affect their routine, however.

"We change from cutting grass to mostly repairing buildings, building maintenance, rebuilding picnic tables," said Ron Hill, maintenance supervisor for the parks department. As the temperatures drop, all of the restrooms except for one at the Sports Complex which has a heater are closed and winterized. "The majority of them are not heated," said Hill. "We drain the water, blow the lines out so they don't freeze."

"When the weather gets bad, both the street department and parks do snow removal," Riggins said. "Everybody works together."

Road crews for the Missouri Department of Transportation will also change their routine.

"We use this time to do extra maintenance on vehicles and around the shops...motors, transmissions, tires," said James Riggins, customer service representative at MoDOT's district office in Sikeston. "Some of the things we do we have to have to have warm weather to get the best results."

For example, repairs to concrete will have to wait until it gets warm again. "The temperatures are too cold," Riggins said. "Patching potholes is another thing."

MoDOT's mowing is finished for awhile, and painting center and road edge lines will also be put on hold. "Once it gets so cold, we have to shut it down, wait until the warmer weather comes in," said Riggins.

Area MoDOT sheds typically use this time to stockpile resources such as calcium and salt for ice and snow removal later in the year - abrasives for traction and salt to mix into an ice-melting liquid brine solution.

The department also uses this time of the year to check road signs. "We make sure they are not only up but are legible," Riggins said. "We stay plenty busy in the winter time, we just gear ourselves differently."