Weather-Related Issues Raised By Manager



WINSTED — A blackout the evening of Jan. 3 occurred at an ironic time, according to Temporary Interim Town Manager Bruce Gresczyk, who told the Board of Selectmen Monday that an emergency planning meeting had just concluded when the lights went out.

"It was kind of an interesting event," Gresczyk told the board and members of the community at Town Hall. "We had just finished the emergency planning meeting and all the players were there. The fire chiefs, police chief, ambulance, hospital and civil defense personnel had just completed discussions about having the Red Cross come in and discuss emergency shelters, and then the lights went out."

Gresczyk said he was comforted to know that local firefighters and police are ready for such events, as the group sprung into action to determine the extent of the blackout and provide assistance to residents. "It was rather small-scale but it was an inconvenience," the interim manager said, adding that the Blanche McCarthy Senior Center was opened and Director Ellen Schroeder took charge of helping the elderly there. "Everybody stepped up to the plate, and it's a credit to the people who live and work in Winsted," Gresczyk said.

Another weather-related event happened the following day, as one of the town plow trucks suffered severe damage during clearing of snow and ice in town. Gresczyk said a repair to the plow frame would cost nearly $5,000 and he asked the Board of Selectmen to approve a bid waiver for the work, which he said could be done immediately by Park City Equipment, the manufacturer of the plow frame. The board voted unanimously to approve the waiver.

Snow removal is one of the top concerns among residents, Gresczyk said, as many are concerned about snow-covered sidewalks. "For most people it probably comes as no surprise that Winsted is one of its own worst violators of its own snow-removal ordinances for sidewalks," he said. The town's Public Works Department has approximately three miles of sidewalks to clear following snowstorms and there are certain areas that are tough to navigate. "We really don't have the proper equipment to clear the sidewalks," Gresczyk said.

The interim manager said he directed Public Works Director Pat Hague to investigate new machinery to be used in clearing town sidewalks and suggested the Board of Selectmen look into approving a new piece of equipment.

While townspeople can be fined for not clearing sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses, Gresczyk noted that the town needs to set an example. "The town can't really fine anybody when we're not really doing it properly ourselves," he said.

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