… that the Fire Department is looking for help in making sure all 1,400 of its fire hydrants, as well as those in private developments and complexes, are accessible. The Fire Department is encouraging residents to “adopt a fire hydrant” near their home and keep snow shoveled away from it during the winter season. Here’s some of the message: “Please don’t let your neighborhood fire hydrant remain ‘under cover.’ [Keeping the hydrant clear] … will allow the Fire Department to quickly locate the fire hydrant for firefighting activities if needed. If a fire hydrant is buried by snow, it is difficult to find and valuable time is spent digging it out before firefighting operations can begin. There is no need to notify the City about a hydrant you have adopted, as this is an informal volunteer program.” 

… that reported responses to the Groundhog Day Blizzard are various, strange and heartwarming: City officials report that some folks were so enchanted by the 15-foot drifts on Sheridan Road that they played in the snow there, even with snowplows approaching.  The City spent about 24 hours on Sheridan Road on Feb. 1 and 2, said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.  He suggests that we need a blizzard policy – for blowing and drifting snow – in addition to the snow policy. One tactic by the City was to pay for hotel rooms for some City workers who live out of town, to make sure they would be here the next day to continue the snow-removal operations – money well spent. Another popular decision, according to most stuff TG has been told or eavesdropped on, was the one to plow the alleys. Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said the alleys must be plowed so the garbage trucks can get through – it’s a matter of public health to pick up the garbage. There were many reports of neighbors pulling together to dig out or just enjoy the nearly two feet of snow. While all the aldermen reported that there were some problems in their wards, most agreed that glitches were to be expected in a blizzard like this and that for the most part the City crews did an excellent job of getting us through. Ann Rainey, the Eighth Ward alderman, reported not just problems but short tempers in places “where the rules were not enforced. Where we had rules that people followed and that were enforced … it worked.” Some areas, she said, “were not treated well.”

Here are some snow pix that folks sent us.  Anyone who wishes to recount problems or give praise to the City can send an e-mail to snow@cityofevanston.org.

On Thursday Feb. 3 we finally had the first plow come to plow our street from Ridge Avenue and he got about an eighth of the way down the street before getting stuck.  Here are pictures of the stuck plow and the incredible rescue operation, where the front loader had to dig out the street from the opposite end (Sherman) and come up nose-to-nose to the stuck plow, put filled plow to filled plow and push the truck back up toward Ridge Avenue.

A snowplow truck got stuck in our  alley. Eventually a Bobcat pushed it out, after much effort. I thought that you might possibly want these pictures.

– Judith Campbell

From our readers: TG: In reply to the Feb. 2 column: Brian Gratch’s response to the squad car left idling for over 90 minutes at an ETHS basketball game on the evening of Jan. 18, I offer the following: More important than the wasting of fuel is the unnecessary running of the police car, with the harmful effect it has on the health of the students and the atmosphere that we all breathe. There’s an effort nationally to curtail running of all cars and buses around schools due to the increase of asthma among our children. I know that this was an afterschool sporting event, but the condoning of this by Cmdr. Pickett (whom I know from my graduation from the Citizen’s Police Academy) and Chief Eddington is a true “cop-out.” Running that car for all that time to prevent freezing or to be ready to respond to a call is a joke. There’s a “beat car” on duty; and if an emergency develops, I’m sure there are other vehicles available.

One thing that greatly bothers me every winter is the many people that remotely start their cars to warm them up before they leave, with a total disregard for the rest of humanity. We need an anti-idling ordinance for all vehicles that’s rigidly enforced with “healthy” fines for those who violate it!

– Fred J. Wittenberg

From TG: Thank you for your response. TG hopes other residents, and drivers of trucks and buses as well, will follow your suggestion and pay really close attention to our anti-idling ordinance. TG wishes to clarify, though, that Brian Gratch received the response, he did not make the response. His was the original inquiry, out of concern that the car had apparently been idling for so long. Taking  the police chief at his word, though, protecting lives would seem to tip the balance.

TG: In the interest of moving traffic along more fairly and efficiently, the City should fix the traffic light pattern at Elgin and Emerson. The problem is that west-bound traffic on Elgin is able to catch a green light faster by detouring half a block north on Benson, then turning west. In the grand scheme of things, this is a “mere bag of shells,” as Ralph Kramden used to say, but still, it would be an easy fix.

– Les Jacobson

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Jacobson. One can, as you suggest, go as far north as possible on Benson then turn onto Elgin, skipping that hypotenuse of Clark, that, as you suggest, can cause delays. TG has also noticed another conundrum in that area: By turning from Benson onto University Place then going to Maple and turning north to Emerson, one can sometimes skip that Clark/Benson light and come out ahead. But it’s all in the timing of the Clark/Benson light, because if it’s green and the next one is as well, you’ll end up waiting at Maple/Emerson for a green light, behind the traffic you thought you would overtake.