Ditto says Boonville city crew has it covered when it comes to pushing snow

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Boonville Director of Public Works Jeff Ditto said the city is in good shape for the rest of the winter with enough salt to clear the streets. Ditto said the city currently has 750 tons of salt but has been allocated up to 1,500 tons. “We’re in good shape,” Ditto said. “It can snow as much as it wants because we’ll get it covered.”

As of lately, the Boonville City Public Works Department has been kept busy with the recent snowfall.

With 1-3 inches of snow already blanketing the Boonslick area, Boonville Director of Public Works Jeff Ditto said the city is in good shape when it comes to salt for the streets for the rest of the winter.

Ditto said the city literally bought 750 tons of salt for the crews to spread on the streets in case of ice or snow. He said the city building will hold about 1,250 tons, however, the department has been allocated 1,500 tons for the year. 

“With our last purchase, we’re not going to be worried about running out of salt,” Ditto said. “Mother Nature snows when it wants to snow, so we got called out here just two nights ago on Monday and Wednesday.”

Ditto said although the city has a total of 12 trucks that it can send out at any one time, the last snowfall that hit the city prompted only six trucks to be used. He said currently the city has one big dump truck, which is the newest, along with eight regular trucks and three smaller trucks. 

Ditto said if the city has a big snowfall, the six street department workers are pulled to clear the streets so other employees have to be pulled from the health department, a couple from the sewer and plumbing departments. He said it’s not just the street department out pushing. The city also has to get help from other departments, he said. 

“We haven’t had any really big snowfalls, so we usually get them done quick,” Ditto said. “As far as salt, if it’s 16 degrees or below, the salt really doesn’t do well. We put a little bit down just for traction, but it’s not really doing a whole bunch of good. We also don’t use chemicals or sand on the streets because of the number of complaints from people that say it gets in their grass or under the driveways.”

Ditto said another advantage that Boonville may have over other cities is the longevity of the crew. He said this crew has been with the street department for a long time, so they know what they are doing. It’s not hard to get people in, he said.

Another thing that helps, Ditto said, is that the Boonville Police Department calls when the roads start to get a little slick.

“We've always got somebody on call 24 hours a day, so if the police department calls or we know snow is coming, the guy on call usually rounds everybody up depending on what it looks like and how many he can get and they get in here real quick,” Ditto said. “They get started on it, but they're all real good about it. They've been here a while and they know what they're doing.”

In the short time that Ditto has been in charge of public works, he said Boonville probably does a lot better than a lot of other cities. He said Columbia has a lot of state highways, so they do it a little bit different than maybe a town like Boonville.  

“I’ve heard the people in Boonville say that we're spoiled because we do so much for on the streets and stuff, and there is probably some truth to that,” Ditto said. “Of course I haven't been here long enough to know that, but that's what I've always been told. I think we do a really good job compared to most towns.”

Ditto said this last snowfall the city pushed snow from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

And while residents might feel like other streets get pushed first every time, Ditto said everybody has their own little place to clear streets. He said it's all set up in the different sections, so this guy always does this section, this guy always does that section, and If somebody's sick, we pick up another guy that knows the section. 

“They always do the same place over and over again and it covers the whole town and city,” Ditto said. “We don't do the alleys, but we cover every city street.”

In addition to pushing snow, Ditto said the crews also have to maintain the trucks. He said right now the trucks have rubber blades as opposed to steel blades so the parts do wear out over a period time. 

“We’ve got to change the oil and all that stuff, but we’ve got an in-house guy that works solely on keeping the trucks up so everything works out good that way,” Ditto said. “We’re in good shape. It can snow as much as it wants because we’ll get it covered.”