As we wait the arrival of spring, we offer a helping of comment on winter-themed news:
CHEERS to Salem for using a youthful “shovel brigade” to help clear downtown sidewalks after major snowstorms.
The shovelers, most of whom are in their teens or early 20s, are expected to focus their efforts on parts of the city that municipal workers can’t get to right away — say, sidewalks next to crosswalks or curb cuts and spots in front of city or public property.
The shovelers are paid $8 an hour by the city, and municipal workers are freed to spend time working in other areas.
Several local organizations, including the Northshore Workforce Investment Board, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem and the North Shore Community Development Coalition, are partnering with the city on the project.
“We are a pedestrian-friendly community in so many respects,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said. “With so many people living and working in downtown especially, we wanted to put extra effort into ensuring our city is accessible and walkable, even following a major snow event.”
JEERS to drivers who can’t be bothered to clear off their cars after major storms, leaving a trail of snow and chunks of ice behind them as they drive down the road. The problem is especially dangerous along routes 95 and 128, when an errant slab of snow hitting a windshield at high speed can have a disastrous effect.
In New Hampshire, so-called “peep-hole” driving can lead to fines of $250 to $500, with higher fines for subsequent offenses. While Massachusetts law doesn’t specifically target snow and ice removal, there is a section that prohibits anything on a vehicle that interferes with its proper operation. Snow and ice fit that bill.
We know it’s been a long winter, and nobody likes standing out in the cold to clean off their car. But it’s common sense — and common courtesy to the driver behind you.
CHEERS to several school districts in New Hampshire for helping kids stay focused on their education even when they can’t make it to class.
The Kearsarge Regional School District was the first to implement “Blizzard Bag Days” in 2009. Bag days are basically snow days — with homework. Students must complete assignments at home, often using supplies sent home in a “blizzard bag.” If 80 percent of the students finish their work, the day counts as a full day, meaning it doesn’t have to be tacked on to the end of the school year.
“We had periods of time when we would have interrupted weeks of school on end, and just out of frustration, we said, ‘There has to be a better way to do this, to preserve continuity so the kids can stay in the habit (of learning),’” Kearsarge Superintendent Jerry Frew told the Associated Press. “You can’t stop and start and stop and start. There has to be a way to preserve the momentum of learning.
Despite some “whining” from students, Frew said, the district’s participation level has always been at 90 percent or above, often outpacing regular school days. And we suspect those kids bummed out about missing out on a snow day in February will be cheering in June, when they can greet summer as their peers in other districts are still making up time.
JEERS to the continued insistence on naming winter storms as if they were hurricanes. The practice — little more than a marketing ploy by the Weather Channel — makes every storm sound like “the big one” in a season when the Northeast has seen few crippling storms.
Yes, there have been a lot of storms. We should note, however, that it is winter. And we’re pretty sure years from now, North Shore residents won’t be asking each other if they remember where they were during Snowstorm Seneca.
Finally, some hearty CHEERS for folks in Finland, who may have found a way to protect reindeer in that country from being struck by cars.
The Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association painted the antlers of 20 reindeer with fluorescent dyes that better reflect light from approaching vehicles. The hope is to prevent the thousands of reindeer road deaths that occur in the country every year. (Finland is home to about 200,000 of the animals.)
Sounds like a bright idea to us.