I am writing to describe an ongoing situation I believe needs to be immediately considered with regard to the safety and well-being of those residents of Lewis and Clark County in rural areas such as Stemple Pass.
Over the past few years there have been many personnel changes made to the winter crews that plow county roads in outlying areas. In the past, the plow operators have been courteous and cognizant of the fact that many people live in mountainous areas year-round. Many of these same people grew up in these locations on the same land their parents and grandparents owned. I am one of these people. Plow operators would take the minimal time to turn their plow blades slightly when they passed the entrances to the driveways of those people who live in these areas year-round. This simple courtesy ensures that the residents are able to safely use the roadway, as well as giving access to emergency vehicles such as firetrucks, ambulances, or utility crews. That is my understanding of the purpose of having plows in the first place. This is a service that is provided and paid for with our tax dollars.
The past year I have had an ongoing struggle attempting to explain to the county that having my driveway plowed shut is causing me great hardship, and yet this complaint continues to fall on deaf ears. I recently contacted one of the county commissioners about this problem and was advised she agreed it was dangerous and that I could appear at a county hearing to voice my concerns. This week I received a call from a county official to inform me that there was no point in my coming to the county meeting, which is a public forum, because everyone will tell me that it is impossible to not plow the driveways shut and that they had much more important problems to discuss.
I am not requesting the county plow my driveway out, I am simply requesting the plow trucks stop building up berms in front of year-round resident driveways, making it impossible to get out or for emergency personnel to get in. These hills of snow have been as high as five-feet-high and quickly freeze to solid ice. Some people experiencing this problem are elderly and do not have the financial resources to hire private plows to dig them out. Complaints seem to result in retaliation.
I have spent my life being a productive member of the community, retiring as a school teacher at Helena High School, serving on the Lewis and Clark County Landfill Board of Directors, and the Canyon Creek Fire Department Board. Now in my retirement, I am concerned that those in my situation are pushed aside and ignored.
I hope that this letter shines light on this situation and ensures that the county commissioners recognize that this issue is as important as any of the other items on their agenda.