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Monday, December 12, 2011

Work week extended for brush cleanup

As published in the Record Journal, Friday November 25, 2011

By Robert Cyr
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

— Town officials are looking into hiring outside contractors and having public works staff work overtime to finish clearing brush and tree debris left by last month’s early winter storm.

Public Works crews have been slowed by vacations and holidays like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, said Henry McCully, department director. The crew of 31 will work six days a week starting next week until the brush is picked up, he said. The curbside collection began Nov. 7. “It’s just a lot of brush, and we’re going to see if we can get some help,” he said.

A town-wide parking ban starts Monday at 7 a.m. to allow crews to maneuver the large equipment needed to remove debris, which is especially challenging downtown, he said. The ban will end when the brush is cleared.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said the extended work week would mean more money for overtime hours, as would hiring outside contractors and renting equipment.

“We are looking to increase the resources in order to get it done quicker,” he said. “If you could possibly move it yourself and take it to the compost area it would be much appreciated. If you’re waiting for public works, you have to be patient and we’ll get there as soon as we can.”

The town is attempting to clear all the brush away before another snowfall. The town has applied for federal financial assistance with the cleanup, he said. Hours have been extended and the compost center on John Street is open an extra day to help handle the debris, McCully said.

While the storm at the end of October all but cancelled Halloween festivities and caused long-term power outages in most of the state, customers of the Wallingford Electric Department fared better than Connecticut Light and Power Co. ratepayers and most had their power restored within a few days.

Tree specialists working for the electric department are still cutting downed limbs and clearing debris from electric lines, and will continue to do so for some time, said George Adair, director of public utilities.

Tree crews only cut the limbs, and do not clear debris, he said.

“Anytime we’re cutting something clear of our power lines, that’s all we’re going to do,” he said. “Our objective is reliability of our electric wires, whether it be the distribution system or service lines. Removal of any of that debris is the responsibility of the property owner and or the town.”

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