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Springdale Township down to one snow-removal truck

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 1:25 p.m.
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Phil Hans, Springdale Township supervisor and retired road foreman, crawls out from under the borough's salt truck while working to fix the hydraulic lines which prevented the vehicle from being used on Wednesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Phil Hans, Springdale Township supervisor and retired road foreman, crawls out from under the borough's salt truck while working to fix the hydraulic lines which prevented the salting of the township roads on Wednesday. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
An Allegheny Valley Fire department vehicle travels on the unplowed northbound lane of Pillow Avenue in Springdale Township early Wednesday afternoon. The borough's salt truck was broken down and the sole laborer for the street department resigned and left the job two weeksd ago. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch

At the start of the first major snowstorm of the winter, one of Springdale Township's two maintenance trucks was out of service.

And the township's Public Works Department — previously staffed by one man — had no staff at all.

Commissioners on Wednesday morning discovered the township's 7-ton dump truck had a broken hydraulic hose. They were working to repair the truck as snow was quickly making travel treacherous.

“It's just bad luck,” commissioners Chairman George Manning said at the township's garage. “It just chose to go at a bad time.”

The township's only road worker, Mike Shock, resigned this month. Commissioners had said they were not going to recognize Shock's union affiliation when his contract expired at the end of the year.

Shock, who says he was forced out after 12 years, now works for PennDOT, but not in winter maintenance.

Shock said the 7-ton truck, a late 1980s International, had needed attention for an oil leak a week or two before he quit on Dec. 12.

“I did see the roads were a mess,” said Shock, a township resident. “I did hear they had a bunch of problems today. According to (the commissioners), they had it all under control.”

The township had a two-man department until a few years ago. Shock worked the last two winters by himself.

“In the end it's the taxpayers who end up suffering over the whole thing,” Shock said. “They have to have subpar service. It's definitely a two-man job up here. (The township commissioners) didn't see it that way.”

While Springdale Township commissioners were working Wednesday to fix the large dump truck, a 5-ton truck was out on the roads.

Police officers were filling in as the snow plow truck driver, Manning said.

Manning said the township has been seeking a replacement for Shock. He said the township hopes to hire someone within a few weeks.

Former Commissioner Terry Sullivan, who has expressed concern over current commissioners' handling of public works and Shock, was happy Wednesday afternoon when he saw the large truck make its way past his house with Commissioner Phil Hans at the wheel.

“They put themselves in a bind, driving that one person away,” Sullivan said. “If you had another person available, it won't be as near a problem as it is. What can we say? Hopefully, there were no accidents or anybody got hurt or anything like that.”

Sullivan said he hadn't heard about the broken down truck.

“I'm very happy that they put some kind of a plan together,” he said. “Regardless of who actually is doing it, it's actually getting done.

“The most important thing they can provide for people is safety.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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