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.
Family of Duluth Stabbing Victim: 'She was Always Happy'
The family of a Duluth stabbing victim spoke out on Wednesday after the 71-year-old woman's tragic death allegedly by the hands of her own son. Mary's ex-son-in-law, Ted Beaudoin, said he's still in shock.
Duluth Police Identify 2 Suspects in Last Month's Central Hillside Shooting
The Duluth Police Department has identified two suspects they believe were involved with an August 19 shooting on the Central Hillside.
Former Teacher Pleads Guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct Charge
A former Duluth teacher and adviser pleaded guilty to a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge on Wednesday. The charge stems from an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student at Harbor City International School back in 2009.
Last Defendant Sentenced in 'Last Place' Case
Joseph Gellerman has been sentenced to three years' probation for his role in the sale of synthetic drugs at the former Last Place on Earth store in downtown Duluth. Gellerman is the son of store owner Jim Carlson, who is appealing after receiving a 17-year sentence.
Wilf: 'We Made a Mistake' on Peterson Decision
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf says the team "made a mistake" by bringing back Adrian Peterson following his indictment on a felony child-abuse charge in Texas. In a reversal announced early Wednesday, Peterson will not play this Sunday.