It’s a snow go

By on January 21, 2016

West Cocalico roadmaster assures supervisors that crews, truck ready for approaching storm

Tom Showalters was front and center at the West Cocalico meeting on Jan. 19 concerning the expected snowfall this weekend.

“If we get 15 or 20 (inches of snow) like some of these guys are talking, it might take days for some of those roads to get open,” Showalter, the township roadmaster, said.

West Cocalico is ready, although, this time, there is a change in plans regarding where, when and how they will plow.

“Our plan will deviate from our normal process,” Showalter said. “Normally we go to developments and keep trucks in there and plow everything back to the curb. We want to get all the roads passable before we start widening. We can’t commit four trucks to a development and have three trucks in the township. We’ll try to play it by ear as the storm develops but we’ll try to make everything passable.”

The two largest developments are Chapel Gate and Village Hollow.

“Usually when I put a truck in there, we commit it until they’re finished which is curb to curb,” Showalter said. “You have to get the lanes open so it’s passable and then you come back to widen the roads out. You can’t spend all your time in a small area. It’s a long distance from Stevens to the top of Texter Mountain.”

The township uses six to seven trucks to cover the 65 miles of West Cocalico dedicated roads. That number doubles to cover both ways in a time spanning 12 to 16 hours. In past storms, crews have worked up to 19 hours to finish, taking just coffee and meal breaks.

Only township vehicles are allowed to plow and they are short one man this weekend due to him “going to Florida for a week,” Showalter said.

But still, they are ready.

“We were out salting roads (last week) and have replaced two bags of salt to replace what we’ve used,” said Showalter.

“You can only do so much.”

And if there is an emergency in one of the neighborhoods?

“We keep in contact with fire, ambulance, and police so as soon as we know there’s a dispatch to one of those, we send a truck and assist,” Showalter said.

Parking is not allowed on the streets until the snow has been removed.

“Our policy is to plow curb to curb,” said Showalter. “It’s common sense. People have to realize everybody wants to get out and we do our best. You never know when we’re going to have a breakdown, too.”

One of the biggest complaints to the borough is from residents getting “plowed in” at the edge of their driveway from the plow trucks, but it’s not avoidable.

“He does a terrific job,” said Norma Enck, former borough manager.

“Everything’s hyped up, but we’ll wait till Friday to see,” Showalter said.

The supervisors approved ordering a new truck, replacing a 2001 Ford F-550 Chassis XL with a 2016 model at the estimated cost of $80,000.

Of the older vehicle, Showalter said the township has been “spending too much money with maintenance on it.”

In other news, the Ephrata Borough Police Department extended a conditional job offer to former East Cocalico Officer Jonathan Zaun, which he accepted.

This is due to West Cocalico Township and Adamstown Borough terminating contracting police service from East Cocalico last year.

Three police officers from East Cocalico received furlough notices effective Dec. 31 and applied with Ephrata police.

“Two did not meet the standards as far as our background and qualifications,” said Lt. Thomas Shumaker of the Ephrata Police Department.

“We did hire Officer Zaun,” Shumaker said. “He’s wrapping up his training and will be out on patrol independently within the next several weeks.

Zaun is in the process of completing 17 weeks of training.

“He’s doing great, we’re very pleased,” Shumaker said. “We think he’s a great asset to our agency.”

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at

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