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Council discusses snow removal

During Monday night’s regular meeting, Newton City Council heard from City Administrator Robert Knabel about snow removal.

The recent snow storm left many residents frustrated with the city, and Knabel admitted things could have been better. He told the council that a number of employees, some who have worked for the city for more than 20 years, said the storm was one of the worst they experienced.

“We had nine staff members working 12-hour shifts,” Knabel said. “Even though there was a considerable amount of work and effort, I think that we would (all) agree that we are not satisfied with the results.”

Knabel saw the storm as a good work opportunity. The staff recommended solutions, and he was able to assess them.

His recommendations included the following:

• New blades for vehicles traveling in rural areas

• Purchase titanium axle trucks with wind blades

• Better time management. Since departments are being combined, this allows for additional staff to help remove snow.

Newton Street Superintendent Jody M. Rhone answered telephones, operated a snow blower and attempted to command street clean-up staff. Knabel would like to change that.

There are a few policy changes that Knabel would like to try out:

• Once snow reaches 2 inches, snow removal crews will be sent out.

• Once snow reaches 6 inches, the street superintendent can make a judgment call to snow removal crews to help the neighborhoods.

• Making a master calender for all city workers, rather than by division.

Knabel thanked city staff who did their best to clean up. He said that next time they will be better prepared.

Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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