Created: 01/10/2014 6:45 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
Related Video: Eyewitness News Rides Along in a Massive Duluth Snow Blower
Cars are getting towed and parking tickets are being written as an expected month of snow removal operations begin in Duluth. From dawn until dusk, city crews will be scraping the ice and blowing the snow from the streets.
Heavy Equipment Operator Kurt Lange drives one of the biggest snow blowers you've ever seen. The snow blowing apparatus attached to the front of the specially-made city truck is five feet tall and eight feet wide, he said.
On Friday, he used it to load snow from East Fourth Street into a waiting line of dump trucks.
"For up here, it's [the snow blower] a necessity," Lange told us, during an interview inside the truck cab.
He's worked for the City of Duluth for 23 years. For 10 of them he's been sitting behind the wheel. "It's not really a bad job until you suck in a brick or a rock."
The saying goes "love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life." Well, it seemed Lange hasn't had to work in ages.
Lange said driving the snow blower is "like having the biggest Tonka toys you've ever had and you get to play with them."
With temperatures on the rebound, Duluth Maintenance Operations Manager Kelly Fleissner said now is the best time to clear the mess away. For the crews out on the streets, he said the hours are long. "We come in at two o'clock in the morning and generally work until three or four the next day."
When we spoke with Lange, he was exhausted, already having worked about eight hours. "I'm not a great interview. I've been up since one o'clock this morning," he said.
Fleissner said the arctic blast forced the city to suspend snow removal operations for safety reasons. "Although generally all of our people are working out of a piece of equipment, if it breaks down you have to get out and try to get it going again."
Fleissner said that happened Thursday, when the snow blower hit some sandbags. Now back at it, slow and steady, block by block, the snow-clearing crews are making progress.
Lange said they would clear Fourth Street from Sixth to 21st Avenues East before heading home.
Fleissner said crews would move on to the Lincoln Park and Spirit Valley business district's next week.
But Lange won't be there. Fourth was the last street he'd ever clear. Turning 55 years old in a matter of days, he said it's time to retire.
"Unfortunately this job isn't all that great on an old guys body," Lange said. "It's time to go. It's time to start chapter two."
According to Duluth Parking Manager Matthew Kennedy, Friday’s snow removal operations resulted in 13 parking tickets and one car being towed.
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