Photos: Mayor inspects warriors

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Messenger photo by John Matuszak

Columbus City Councilwoman Maryellen O’Shaughnessy and Mayor Michael Coleman (above) on Nov. 12 inspect the city’s snow plow fleet and talk to equipment operator Ted Thomas, in preparation for the coming winter, and the mayor climbs into the cab of one vehicle. The city has 116 “snow warriors” and another 100 employees trained to jump into one of 113 vehicles in the event of a major blizzard, according to the mayor. And this year Columbus purchased 13 plows that can be attached to trucks for extra street-clearing. The city also uses a tracking system that shows the exact location of every vehicle, and even whether the plow is up or down. Jerry Ashcraft, a 40-year veteran going into his last winter before retiring, recalled that when he joined the crew most trucks had manual transmissions, and many did not have radios or heaters. The modern trucks are easier to operate, he noted, allowing the drivers to stay on the roads longer when necessary. He recalled during the blizzards of 1977-78, he made it home for a few hours only twice over three weeks.

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