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Harsh winter taking a toll on plow truck drivers
By: Maria Miller
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- The almost constant snow this winter has been a nuisance for most people getting to school and work, but for local plow companies it's extra cash and this year, a lot of it. But it's also taking a toll.
Thursday's heavy storm continually dumped several inches of snow across the viewing area making it nearly impossible for PennDot, boroughs and townships to keep the roads clear.
"They're having as much trouble as we are trying to keep up and keep clean," said George Milkie, owner of Milkie's Lawn and Garden Center. "There's a fine point. You salt in this kind of snow and it actually becomes slushier, maybe even slippier so it's a Catch-22."
"There's probably a good 6 inches out here," said James Eisenhuth as he plowed the parking lot of Richland Towers.
By noon Thursday, Eisenhuth said he had already plowed the parking lot four times and didn't expect to quit anytime soon.
"It's all day in and out, in and out," Eisenhuth said.
Armed with 28 of his own trucks and about 10 contractors, Milkie said his business clears 600 plus parking lots and driveways during a typical snowfall, making for extra-long hours and minimal sleep on days like Thursday.
"It's financially rewarding and physically draining," Milkie said. "There's no sleep. This morning (we were out at) 1 a.m. We'll probably be working till 9 or 10 tonight and we'll most likely be out at 3 a.m. to start all over again if the forecast holds through."
But it's not only the continual snowfall making it hard to keep the roads safe. Milkie said salt is in extreme high demand.
"We're begging for salt and every once in a while we get lucky," Milkie said. "We've actually found an outfit in New York that we're getting salt from but Pittsburgh sources are totally dried up."
While the end to winter is still uncertain, most agree they're ready for spring.
"Every day you wake up and there's more snow, more snow," Eisenhuth said. "I'm ready to go fishing."
"I think all of my men would like to be mowing grass and planting shrubs right about now," Milkie added.
He said he's been restricting his employees to 10-hour shifts and making sure they get rest in between so they're not out on the highways causing accidents.
Officials ask drivers to do the same: Stay alert and slow down. Crews are trying to keep the roads clear but the snow just keeps coming down.