By Mayara Sanches
Grand Ledge Gazette Reporter
GRAND LEDGE — Having used its 300 tons of road salt supply, Grand Ledge, Mich. is now using other funds, such as money for street repairs, to remove the snow, while police officers find ways to reach the community.
Schools were closed for several days, and piles of snow covered sidewalks and sometimes roads, so police officers searched other ways to reach the city’s citizens. The plow services could not keep up with the snow on the worst days, getting in the way of police trying to alert and protect the community.
“We don’t have four-wheel vehicles on our fleet.” Police Chief Martin Underhill said. “We have front-wheel vehicles. What we do is we let our officers know where the roads are plowed.”
Although the police chief said that Grand Ledge is very good with plowing the snow quickly, police officers alert people through TV stations to advise them to stay home and only go out if necessary.
The police department get assistance on getting to citizens through agreements with local car dealers that loan them four-wheel cars. Underhill said this is a way they can quickly respond to people in the city.
Underhill also said that Michiganders are used to having 4 to 6 inches of snow, but when it gets to 1 or 1.5 feet, the officers need to act fast to help the city.
City Administrator Jon Bayless said Grand Ledge has run out of its road salt supply that the Detroit Salt Company sends them every year and that will affect the fast plowing services to get rid of the snow.
“It’s hard to get road salt right now,” Bayless said. “We’re not even much more than halfway through the winter and it’s impossible to get additional salt because all the other agencies have salt on order as well.”
The priority — if the state runs out of road salt — will be for state-owned highways and federal areas, Bayless said. He also said the city is spending a lot of money on overtime for the workers who deal with the snow.
“We pay them overtime, for not-working hours,” he said. “The street funds typically are to used to fund construction and pavement … so the more money we spend on plowing snow, leaves less money available to fill chuckholes and put down new asphalt and paving.”
Bayless said his concerns besides the funding are with the school closings, and the parents who have to leave their children home alone so they can go to work.
Mayor Kalmin Smith said the community is very united and are willing to help each other through this unusual winter.
“The city will rally really quick if needed,” Smith said. “Houses opened and the church too for the ice storm, because people wanted to know how to help.”
Many parents have offered their extra seats in their cars for the children whose parents could not take them to school on the days that were too cold to walk and wait for the bus. These parents posted on the community’s Facebook page.
Parents giving rides to other children is a sign of community, Smith said. Grand Ledge is a town where people care to meet the others around them.
“If you walk your dog in Grand Ledge, you meet someone and start talking – you get to know them,” he said.
But on the days that more snow comes in, Underhill said he and his team advise people to stay inside and not go out, only if it is necessary.
As a result, people not being able to leave their homes leaves downtown unpopulated, and many open businesses unvisited for the day.
“It’s dramatically affected our business,” Corey Coleman, co-owner of Sweet Linda’s Café said. “It’s slowed down quite a lot with school being closed and out main clientele are teachers.”
Although Coleman said the immense slow-down in business could affect the business future, Bayless said that people have had trouble dealing with the snow and finding ways to work around it.
Contact Reporter Mayara Sanches (248) 464-2993 or firstname.lastname@example.org