Nothing to plow

Shortage of snow hurts businesses

Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2005

When it snows, some plowers on the Kenai Peninsula view it as pennies from heaven. When it doesn’t, they’re hurting.

This month’s scarcity of snow has meant some businesses have not been able to employ any drivers other than the business owner, and others have had to depend on work other than snowplowing to get by.

“I’m twiddlin’ my thumbs,” said Jack Meeks, owner of Tuff Construction in Soldotna.

“In wintertime, snowplowing is my main business,” he said.

Meeks, who works with his son, Bud, when there is enough business, said they have only been out plowing three times so far this season.

They have gone out spreading sand several times, he said.

Tuff Construction has two trucks with snowplow attachments and one with a sander.

“It usually takes up to 24 hours to plow all of our routes,” said Meeks, who clears residential driveways from Sterling to Nikiski and to Kasilof.

“When it’s snowing, I tell my boy, ‘It’s pennies from heaven,’” Meeks said.

In the snowplow business three years, Meeks said, “This is most definitely the worst (year).”

Meeks also does remodeling work and in the summer his mainstay is landscaping.

“The gods are not smiling down on us,” he said.

“I have a snow dance, but it wasn’t working, so I quit,” Meeks said with a laugh.

Doug Blossom, whose business is between Clam Gulch and Ninilchik along the Sterling Highway, said he has been plowing snow for about 20 years.

“This probably isn’t the worst,” he said.

In a normal snowfall year, Blossom said he is busiest in December and November, then again in March.

“There just isn’t any snow (this year),” he said. “I plowed only once and sanded quite a few times.

“More important than snowplowing, though is snowmachining,” Blossom said. “We haven’t even had enough to do that.”

Eldon Hamrick, who plows snow in Kenai, Soldotna and Sterling, agrees this year has been slow.

“This year, it’s definitely cut in half,” he said.

“I do sanding, too, so that helps out a little,” he said.

The amount of sanding he has done this year has been about the same as previous years.

Hamrick, who has been plowing for five years, has three snowplow trucks, but said he has not been busy enough this year to have another driver.

According to Foster “Frosty” Walters, who keeps track of Kenai snowfall as a hobby, so far this year Kenai has received 22 inches of snow compared with 44.35 inches a year ago.

The National Weather Service is predicting a chance of snow Friday, Monday and Tuesday, but a return to colder weather in the next few weeks with little precipitation.

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