City officials praise crews for clearing streets


If there was a single theme that ran through Monday night’s Portsmouth City Council meeting it was praise for city maintenance crews for keeping the streets clear during the big snow outbreak of last weekend.

“I just wanted to publicly state my appreciation for what we think is just the Street Department, but actually you had the Street Department, you had the Water Department and you had the Wastewater Department. You had all these employees stepping up and working around the clock,” Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen said. “We had four – two of which broke down last year – to having 11 trucks running. We put out 200 tons of salt and while we had the trucks running, we had the back-hoe downtown scraping the curb lanes because that was important.”

Allen said crews went out on Sunday and scraped the curb lanes around the schools too.

“They did an outstanding job and I was tickled to death and I want to thank Council for the additional equipment,” Allen said. The employees really gave good effort, showed pride and did a good job. I believe they need to be publicly acknowledged.”

First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson said he had several relatives from outlying areas who stayed at his house during the snowstorm.

“I deeply deeply appreciated that my two guests were safe and I was comfortable,” Johnson said. “It was nice to know that you could depend upon someone to keep things clear.”

Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson chimed in – “I just want to say a great job to our city employees. I agree with everyone else, the streets were clean. Streets that I have never seen cleaned before were clean. Great job by all the city employees. If you acknowledge them you have to acknowledge the leader, and Mr. city manager, good job.”

“I want to say what a great job the city crews under the city manger did on the snow,” Portsmouth Mayor Jim Kalb said.

Sixth Ward Councilman Tom Lowe also got in on offering accolades to city workers.

“First of all I want to congratuate Mr. Allen and the employees for just an excellent excellent job,” Lowe said. “They coordinated everything and I couldn’t be happier.”

Portsmouth City Solicitor John Haas told Council he does not remember ever seeing a truck with a plow on it go up his street before this past weekend.

“I did notice that the street got plowed and I appreciated that,” Haas said.

The only person who changed the tone was Fifth Ward Councilman Gene Meadows during the consideration of legislation changing Allen’s contract, adding another week of vacation and other items to the contract, something he has opposed from its inception.

“I appreciate your remarks for over the weekend. It was nice to have the streets plowed, but we approved all the extra equipment and that’s the job,” Meadows said. “I can’t sit here and say you did a good job over the weekend so I’m gonna change my mind. You did what you were hired to do.”

By Frank Lewis

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Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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