Mayor Don Wesely and the Lancaster County Chapter of the American Red Cross today kicked off a campaign to encourage more volunteers to sign up to shovel snow for the elderly and disabled this winter. Through its "Snow Buddies" program, the Red Cross matches volunteers with those who need help keeping their walks cleared.
"City ordinance requires homeowners to clear the snow off their sidewalks, but we know there are many people in the community who simply cannot do that because of their health," said Wesely. "The ‘Snow Buddies’ program of the Red Cross is an excellent way for individuals, families or businesses to really make a difference in someone’s life and in the community."
Those wanting to volunteer and those needing assistance can call the Red Cross at 441-7997. Janine Brown, Director of Emergency Services for the local Red Cross chapter, said both clients and volunteers are screened. The agency would like volunteers to sign up to shovel snow for the same person or family all season, and they try to place volunteers close to their home or workplace.
"Last year we had about 50 volunteers shoveling for about 100 people," said Brown. "Our goal with ‘Snow Buddies’ this year is to recruit at least 100 volunteers."
City ordinance requires property owners to clear snow and ice from the public sidewalk by 9 a.m. the day following the end of the snow storm. Harry Kroos of the city Public Works and Utilities Department’s Sidewalk Office, said those unable to meet that deadline can call his office at 441-8405 to request additional time.
Kroos said when a problem area is reported to the Sidewalk Office, staff responds as they are able. At single-family homes, a notice is left in the door that the walk must be cleaned by the following day. At commercial or rental properties, owners are notified by mail and are allowed several days for the mail to arrive before the sidewalks are expected to be cleared. Because of staff limitations, follow-up inspections are not done for all properties. If an unresolved problem is reported again, the city may have the sidewalk cleared by a contractor, and the charges are billed to the property owner. Kroos said the snow clearing charge per property averaged $154 last year.