Big Chill: City Plows in snow, ice and killing frost

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, February 14, 2019
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Photo by Eleanor Guerrero
Red Lodge City Mayor Bill Larson and Brian Hannah of Public Works. Their crew has tackled the streets of Red Lodge during the latest series of snowstorms.

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Photo by Alastair Baker
Snow mounds have been asserting their authority across town mainly in parking lots as businesses try to keep pace with the recent storms.

Mayor Bill Larson had his public works crew out plowing the streets in the early hours of the morning recently, after a deep snow was followed by an even deeper frost that continued every day that week.  February is the month of minus degree days and nights. 

Brian Hannah, of Public Works, said there weren’t any problems with the city’s pipes and he had been concentrated on the roads. “We never had a city water main freeze in the eight years I’ve been here and I’ve never heard of it.” 

His mission is to “make sure to prepare the roadways to drive on and keep them sanded.” 

To do it, the city has four plow trucks with sand, and 2 loaders with V plows. “We have a rotary blower if it gets real bad.” 

He stresses the State plows Broadway. “The city does the side streets. We help the State berm and get ready to haul it.” At 2 a.m. the city starts getting the Broadway pile ready to haul by piling it in the middle of Broadway. “Most people never see it!” He has a message for the community: “Be patient with us. It takes time to get everything widened.” 

There are three, sometimes four employees working the machines each storm. “They are not big crews. We haven’t even hit our snow month yet!” said Hannah. 

On the days it is snowing, plowing starts at 7 a.m. They work an 8-hour day. There is no night shift. “We only come at night in an emergency.” 

“Our first priority is getting the schools plowed and sanded, then the rest of town,” said Hannah. “Every plow guy is spread out taking his own area. We do the entire golf course and The Spires. “ 

With these latest storms, they were running out of places in town to put snow. At that point, they started to store it at the rodeo grounds. If businesses or homeowners have no place to put it Hannah said they can call him and he will recommend companies that will haul the snow if you pay them. Every Red Lodgian can use the rodeo grounds to put their excess snow in the designated area.  

As for his normal routine Hannah says, “We plow the streets and widen them. We dress accordingly. We have good equipment. We make sure it’s all treated, winter ready.”

He says the worst winter he recalls was 2008. “There was four feet Columbus Day weekend. It just kept building from there!  I try not to remember past winters!”

Hannah said, “We plow streets, we come through and widen-that’s all we do. We don’t intend to bury anybody or plow in driveways. We don’t do anything to inconvenience people. Our main deal is for people to have a place to drive and to park.”

He said, “The best recommendation we can give if you have a place proven to have leaks, leave on a faucet-almost a pencil stream-to allow the water to keep moving. The cost of water for one, or two months running is worth it versus a plumber coming in or fixing a broken line if it breaks.”

Heat your crawl spaces and basement if your pipes are located there. Hannah says, “We get a few calls to the basement about pipes freezing. We do respond to house calls.” 

But he said, if they come and find the problem is in the house, “It is referred to a plumber. If necessary we will shut the water off to the house. We do not do work in the house.” 

If they have to find a problem from the curb to the house they can shut off the water. That has a service charge. “If we just give a referral there is no charge.”

He ended on a somber note. “We’re not even in our freezing time yet! It’s cold so the ground is still cooling off. In February it drives the cold deeper. February and March, your pipes will not freeze if you can just run your water. “ If you’ve never had a problem with frozen pipes he says it probably won’t act up now.   

Hannah concluded, “I think if everybody just understands we can’t be everywhere at once, we will get there eventually. We plow every street and alley and go back and widen. We do every street and alley every storm!”

He emphasized, “We are trying to do the best that we can with what we have.”



Upcoming Events

  • Friday, August 23, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, August 26, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 29, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, August 29, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, August 30, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.