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Selected Editorials from the Editor

Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

Selected editorials from Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Ed. D.


The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


Fort Fairfield Public Works Provides Big City Road Care on Small Town Budget


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 8, 2014


   Fort Fairfield Public Works (FFPW), under the direction of George Watson are gaining notoriety in the area as one of the most efficient and thorough road maintenance departments of all the towns in central Aroostook County.  “I have personally been in Caribou and have personally been in Presque Isle and they can't hold a candle to how quick and how well our streets get cleaned,” said Fort Fairfield town council chairman, David McCrea.  “This is a personal comment from me, but I've also had three people mention it to me as well.”

    During the department's winter maintenance program, FFPW uses a fleet of five trucks equipped with snow plowing equipment which maintain a total of ninety Rural Roads.  Four of the trucks are International trucks, ranging in years 1992 thru 2001, and one is a 2000 Sterling.    “We use a 1995 GMC (single axle) and a 2004 Komatsu Pay loader with a sweeper and wing to complete twelve miles of Urban Streets,” said George Watson, Director of Fort Fairfield Public Works.   “We complete plowing sidewalks using a 1985 John Deere 850, which has a plow and sander attachment.    Also within the urban area our crews do snow plowing for all Schools parking, Community Center, Police, Fire, Town Office as well as several Town owned parking lots.”

    At this time FFPW has a total of six full time employees and one part time who can operate a plow truck.  They also have two operators for loaders and one for all hand shoveling for the Town Office, Community Center, Fire, Police, Library and our new health clinic facility.

      FFPW plows 70 miles of Rural Roads, 12 Miles of Urban Streets, 18 Miles of M.D.O.T. State Aid Roadways, 4 miles of sidewalks, several Town owned parking lots, School, Town Office, Community Center, and the new Town-owned health clinic.  They are consistently one of the first communities in the area to have all these roads cleared after a snow storm, which is an accomplishment considering their peer communities of Presque Isle and Caribou budget much more money to plow approximately the same mileage of roads in their respective communities, yet are unable to keep up with Fort Fairfield's quality and level of service during the winter season.

   The flagship of FFPW's snow removal fleet is a massive snow blower which was acquired through a diligent review of government surplus equipment.  “In reviewing daily listings of used government equipment, three years ago we were able to upgrade our 1971 snow blower with a 1992 Oshkosh snow blower with the only cost to our Community being just the transportation.    To purchase this equipment new our cost would have been around  $400,000.00,” explained Watson.  “However, our total cost for this used government equipment was around $2,500.00.   Our old blower was an auger style while the newer unit is a ribbon type and it has cut our removal time by fifty percent.   This has been an excellent addition to our snow removal fleet with very little cost to our inhabitants.”

   When a winter storm is brewing, Watson gets his crew ready ahead of time in case they are needed.    “It has been my policy that prior to the crew going home for the day, they are aware of any storms coming and that I will be calling early in the morning.     During any given storm I can be found out checking road conditions prior to making this call, I try to get them out (as needed) by 4:00 a.m. to get the roads plowed prior to having any car or school bus traffic on them.”

   While the plowing of 100 miles of in-town and side streets - comparable to a community the size of Presque Isle - is an accomplishment in itself, FFPW prides itself in clearing the snow from the sidewalks and town parking lots on Main Street as quickly as practical, after the Maine Department of Transportation fulfills its responsibilities to plow Main Street.  “Our goal is to complete this as soon as our rural and urban Streets are plowed.    There have been times that we are able to get to this the same day as the storm.   We, as a department, take pride in getting our Main Street cleaned as soon as possible, and so far have been able to get this done in a timely manner.”

   Keeping the roads clear is not without a cost. Watson says all in-house costs associated with snow removal, such as labor, benefits, repairs, plow parts, tires, salt/sand, and motor fuels consume about 52% of his department's annual budget of $928,982.    

    While they are able to work around vehicles and traffic in most cases, there are some things people can do to make the process go more smoothly during a heavy snowstorm and shortly thereafter.  “There are just a couple of things that would really help; no parking on Main Street or side of the Rural roads, no plowing or blowing snow into the roadways, keep their mailboxes off the edge of the road and shoveled out.    Then just staying home during any type of major snow storm, all the above would be a great help to our crew.” 

   While FFPW is very efficient in the use of their limited funds, they can reach a threshold where there is so much snow they can come close to using up their allocated money before the end of the season.      “In our 2007/2008 Season we received a total of 197.8 inches of reported snow fall, placing us over budget on our labor and diesel.  However, we re-adjusted our Spring work schedule and were close to our approved budget, but over very little.”  

    This winter season, December was a snowy month with over 45” of reported snowfall, this is about twice the amount of last season at this time.   “So far this season we have hauled snow five times off our Streets and last year this time we had only hauled snow once.  At this point we have used more labor and diesel, however we are in hopes that the rest of the winter will balance it out and we will be within budget this coming Spring.  Our past winter snow fall has been averaging around 120”, so far Caribou has recorded around  55” for our season.”

    FFPW inhabits a modern garage with commercial body shop on Cheney Grove and provides painting and body maintenance for its own equipment, as well as equipment from other government agencies.    Any motor, transmission and hydraulics issues that they can not repair, are farmed out to Northern Maine Community College.    “We do a lot of body work and painting of equipment for other Communities as well as the State of Maine Forestry.    All monies received for this work goes back into Public Works Labor Account, which helps with any overruns on Snow Removal.”


photo: A fleet of Fort Fairfield Public Works’ trucks receive snow from their Oshkosh snowblower during a routine sidewalk cleanup on Main Street. Depending on snow volume, the massive snowblower can fill a truck in 15 to 30 seconds. After a heavy snowstorm, For Fairfield is consistently one of the first towns in the area to have their sidewalks and town roads cleared of snow.
ffj file photo by David Deschesne






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