HOPEWELL, PENNINGTON: Area recovers nicely from massive snowstorm

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By Frank Mustac, Special Writer
Despite challenges from the large amount of snow that fell over the weekend, Hopewell valley municipalities reported roadways were cleared in a timely manner.
In Pennington, appreciative residents were generously handing coffee and water to drink to snow plow operators, according to Borough Administrator Eileen Heinzel.
“Our public works did an outstanding job,” Ms. Heinzel said Monday. “They were justdoing around-the-clock work.”
“Our roads are clear,” she said, adding that there was still some clearing that needed to be done in the municipal parking lot as of late Monday afternoon.
Crews also planned to work Monday evening and clear snow along the curbs on Mains Street so cars can park in the downtown.
“Pennington police assisted in safely clearing roads throughout the weekend, and at the borough municipal parking lot on Monday,” Ms. Heinzel said.
“I think everyone understood that this was a very difficult storm considering the timing and the amount of snow,” she said. “We received a lot of appreciation from residents about the work that was being done.”
She said she was also impressed by how many residents got out and cleared their sidewalks.
“There are some sidewalks that still need to be cleared,” Ms. Heinzel said. “The borough understands that with a storm like this it may take more than 12 hours to shovel your sidewalk. We appreciate people doing that as quickly as possible.”
In Hopewell Borough, Mayor Paul Anzano reported that snow plowing in his municipality “went fine.”
“The plows were operating all night,” the mayor said about the work performed by the public works department over the weekend. “We had a lot of time to prepare.”
“I think there was a real awareness here that this was an unusually large storm, with an unusually large amount of snow,” he said.
Mr. Anzano said he was glad to see neighbors with snow blowers helping fellow residents without the machines, including the neighbor who brought a blower to his property to help him clear his long driveway.
“People were helping other people,” he said. “It worked out well.”
In Hopewell Township, Peter Van Hise, the acting director of public works, seemed relieved.
“We got it done,” he said on Tuesday, explaining that all the routes the township is responsible for were cleared by noon Sunday.
Mr. Van Hise said the township was “shorthanded” as far as the amount of equipment available for snow plowing because of the fire at Department of Public Works building in March 2015 that destroyed several DPW trucks.
“Everything went fine,” he said, despite some snowplows getting stuck in ditches, before being eventually pulled out. “From our aspect, there was minimal damage (to the vehicles).”
More snow removal, he said, was performed “development by development to clean up an snow piles that were blocking site-line visibility” for motorists.
Only one school bus stop at the corner of Grandview Avenue and Hopewell-Wertsville Road needed clearing as of Tuesday morning, said Mr. Van Hise.
Hopewell Township Mayor Kevin Kuchinski thanked township public works crews for working “tirelessly” from the start of operations at 9 p.m. Friday through mid-afternoon on Sunday.
He noted the blizzard-like conditions:
“Winter Storm Jonas delivered 27 inches of snow in Hopewell Township, and at times was falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour,” he said. “Winds were gusting to 45 mph, leading to deep drifts and white-out conditions most of Saturday.”
The mayor also thanked police and first responders “who were out in the township or on-call throughout the storm, ready to assist residents.”
“Overall, I am pleased with how Hopewell Township responded to this epic storm, but, as always, we welcome residents’ feedback and will look for opportunities to improve further,” he said.
Hopewell Valley Schools Superintendent Thomas Smith said schools closed Monday for safety reasons.
The bus company the schools contracts with also had difficulties Monday “getting their buses out and getting their drivers in,” Dr. Smith said.

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