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Snow storm packs a punch

When he hasn't been maneuvering a snow plow around the county during and after last week's storm, Randy McCuskey has been busy counting overtime hours.

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City of Cloquet employees clear snow from Cloquet Avenue Tuesday morning after 19.5 inches fell in a three-day storm over Christmas. Lisa Baumann/lbaumann@pinejournal.com

When he hasn't been maneuvering a snow plow around the county during and after last week's storm, Randy McCuskey has been busy counting overtime hours.

So far, he's up to an average of 30 hours for each of his 26 employees.

"We might be finished with the overtime by now," Carlton County's maintenance superintendent said Tuesday afternoon, "but it's still pretty ugly out there. We were still into [overtime] last night, sanding and putting down salt - trying to break up the ice on our roads."

The snow storm that began last Thursday and lasted through Saturday dumped 19.5 inches of snow in Cloquet with similar amounts recorded around the county. The snow was heavy and full of moisture, and at times on Friday, it was common to see sleet and even rain coming down.

That mix of precipitation, along with colder weather, has produced a terribly hard freeze, McCuskey explained.

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"If you hit a snow bank, you might damage your car," he said.

In the city of Cloquet, employees racked up a total of 400 overtime hours between Thursday and Sunday, according to Cloquet City Administrator Brian Fritsinger.

"In terms of the last few years, it was one of the larger snows and with the bad holiday timing, the amount of wet snow and slippery ice that stuck - well the costs [associated with cleanup] are just the nature of the beast," he said.

While city workers were removing some of the last of the snow from the city's roads Tuesday morning, talk turned to whether they would be able to remove the ice and snow covering Cloquet's sand-bottom swim pond for ice skating.

"Because of the nature of the type of snow we got, we're a little concerned that we may not be able to remove it, and it's at the bottom of the barrel in terms of priority," Fritsinger said. "It's not the end of the world, but it's not the best scenario for those wanting to use the pond to skate."

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