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Q and A: Blizzard made for a busy weekend

Dustin Meide and a number of other plow drivers who work for private snow removal companies were very busy over the weekend.

I don't know about where you live, but over in my neighborhood, I rarely have to lift a shovel full of snow. My home is part of an association, and as such, our association pays a local company to plow our roads and driveways when we have heavy snowfalls.

Well, it turns out I know the guys who usually plow my neighborhood. They do a pretty good job, too, although I didn't have any room for my sister's dog to do her thing in my yard last winter because they piled up the snow so high.

I was out of town last weekend so I didn't see the pile of snow in front of my house until Monday evening. And when I did, I knew just who to thank. Or blame, considering the pile in my yard again.

His name is Dustin Meide. Dustin works for a Rosemount company called Aspen Ridge. This is Dustin's fourth year with the company, so he's done his fair share of driveways. In Farmington alone, the company covers five developments. Suffice it to say, last weekend was a long one for him and his coworkers.

How many hours did you spend plowing last weekend?

I spent about 30 hours this weekend. And actually, I'm on the low side because I had to work Friday night at my regular job and Sunday night, so I only got to go out Saturday and Sunday during the day. A lot of the other guys got 50-plus hours just this weekend and they're still out.

Do you guys watch the weather, or how do you know when to plan to be out?

We all watch the weather, and then the owner of the company, he decides through watching a bunch of different channels and whatnot, this is when it's going to kind of die off a little bit. You know, it started at midnight so it's going to slow down around 3, so then at 3, when it's almost over, we'll go out. But when you have a storm like this, and it's 2 or 3 inches, you just keep going around and around in circles, cleaning everything over and over again so people can get through.

Do you get cold or sore when you're out there?

Yeah. Tired. Really, really tired. I mean, a lot of times you're going 20 hours straight. If you're in a truck you're always turning around, looking where you're backing up, trying not to run into anything. If you're in a skid loader, they have no suspension whatsoever, so you're just getting bounced around.

Are there guidelines for you guys to follow?

We are required to be out at an inch and a half, so when there's an inch and a half we're out there to start our cleanup. Of course, there are certain rules -- this area's got to be kept clean, no snow in this area, the driveways have to be decent looking, you can't just leave piles on there. Don't cover up gas meters.

So what happens when you do run out of room?

Then we actually have to do snow removal. Then we come in with a big front-end loader and dump trucks and start hauling as much snow out of there as we can.

Where do you go with it?

We usually bring it back. There's designated areas of just land, where we pile up extra snow. The city has their spots and we have our spots.

Compare last year's snowfall to this year's so far.

This year? It's been a mess. It doesn't seem like so much at first, I mean, 17 inches is a lot of snow, but a lot that factors into it is the blowing. Like, when the wind picks up and it keeps drifting and drifting and drifting? That's when it becomes a pain. If it just came down, nice and fluffy, 17 inches, it still would have been bad but we would have been a lot better off. This year has definitely been a busier year so far, and it's not even Christmas yet. I made as much as we did last year.

Here's your final question, and it's a really important one. Are you really setting out to bury my tree entirely this year, or do you think you'll leave a couple of branches showing?

I can try to leave a couple branches this year, just because you didn't ask me to keep it clean. I will be not so much of a smart aleck this year.

And that's the worst part, too, just finding places to put the snow. It's like, you get to the point of, "whoop, that looks like a good place to put the snow." It gets hard finding a place where you can put it. We had snow drifts four and five feet high up in front of some people's garage doors. It was definitely a mess.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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