In Washington, tem­pers flare against snow plow driv­ers

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Nation & World -

SPOKANE, Wash. — Un­usu­ally heavy snow caused snow­plow rage in re­cent days: Two plow driv­ers clear­ing streets were threat­ened by res­i­dents in­fu­ri­ated when their drive­ways ended up blocked with mounds of snow in the Spokane area.

In one in­ci­dent, a man with a hol­stered hand­gun yelled ob­scen­i­ties at a plow driver and climbed onto the plow truck, try­ing to open a door, said Spokane County spokes­woman Martha Lou Wheat­ley-Bil­leter.

And an­other man threat­ened to get a gun while order­ing a plow driver not to block a drive­way with snow from the street, Wheat­ley-Bil­leter said.

The man with the hol­stered gun was not charged by sher­iff's deputies be­cause he had a per­mit to carry it and no charges were filed against the other man, said sher­iff's spokesman Mark Gre­gory.

Spokane has re­ceived nearly 2 feet of snow since Feb. 1, mak­ing the first two weeks of Fe­bru­ary this year the sev­enth snowiest for that pe­riod since record keeping be­gan in 1893, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice said. More snow fell Fri­day.

Peo­ple with drive­ways blocked by snow from plows should make com­plaints to county of­fi­cials if they are up­set, Spokane County Sher­iff Ozzie Kne­zovich said in a state­ment.

“There are proper ways to ad­dress the snow­plow con­cerns and in­tim­i­da­tion is not one of them,” he said.

The threats have prompted au­thor­i­ties to con­sider putting cam­eras on the snow­plows, Wheat­ley-Bil­leter said.

“Hin­der­ing pub­lic em­ploy­ees from do­ing their jobs will not be tol­er­ated,” said County Com­mis­sioner Mary Kuney.

The county's plow driv­ers must clear about 2,500 miles of roads.

“Our crews have been work­ing 10-14 hour shifts around the clock since last Thurs­day,” county en­gi­neer Chad Coles said. “We un­der­stand that the level of frus­tra­tion is ris­ing, but please al­low them to do their job,” county en­gi­neer Chad Coles said.

The county is test­ing de­vices on plows that pre­vent snow from be­ing plowed into drive­ways by keeping the snow in front of the plows as they pass drive­ways and then let­ting it go to the side of streets just past the drive­ways, Wheat­ley-Bil­leter said. They cost $25,000 each.

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