Although Charlotte is relatively small in population, its area is relatively vast and much of its landscape still rolling and open. The roads to many houses head up through forests and hills and require snow plowing. Stopping by either of the two town stores in the morning after a snowfall, one is likely to find a number of plowers grabbing breakfast between jobs.
Many have been up since the middle of the night clearing driveways and gravel roads for their customers – their foods may, in fact, be more lunch-like than breakfasts.
Speaking with Road Commissioner, Junior Lewis, I learned that he has a ritual to which he adheres when a snowstorm is predicted. Hearing it is headed toward Charlotte, Junior calls his four plowers who arrive at the town garage ready to clean their assigned roads. Each of them has a specific route for which he is responsible.
Junior says they do blacktop roads first. The Charlotte/Hinesburg Road between CCS and our neighboring community starts their day. During the most recent snowfall, commissioner and crew were up at three a.m. and plowed the roads three times that day. The week prior, with a heavier blizzard, they plowed six times.
Because Junior owns the equipment they use, he and his cohort make sure it is in good-running order. They have even gone so far as to replace engines themselves, he said. However, as we move forward, more of the equipment has a strong technological bent, and he has to bring in an outside expert for an increasing number of tune ups.
Another plower who maintains it as a family business, Dick Preston, echoes Junior’s comments. Prestons plow school roads, which are always among the first. He said he has over 160 customers and the number of developments in Charlotte is increasing. As a plower, Dick is conscious of two things. He knows where people who need to get to work early live, physicians and the like, and he will head there first. In the developments, he will plow the roads into them and let the homeowners do their own driveways.
Dick also says maintaining equipment is a major concern. Since a number of Charlotte roads are either gravel with potholes or other elements that will knock equipment out of line, they constantly need to check and align their plows after each storm.
If we bear the brunt of another storm this spring, we will notice and thank the pickups galore that cruise the town, keeping families safe as they need to get to-and-from their houses.