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Posted: Jul 8, 2009  12:21

Street and Parks Dep't Keeps the City Pretty


Front row: Dave Kelley, Scooter Drake. Back row: Steve Galbraith, John Youngwirth, Tim English.

Visitors to Bonners Ferry often comment on how well maintained and nicely groomed it is. The hanging baskets, the cleanliness of the streets and the well cared for parks are all a testament to the hardworking Street and Parks Department who perform many duties that are often not seen by the general public.

The phenomenal task of taking care of a city is performed by just five men. John Youngworth, Superintendent of the Street and Parks Department, has been with the City of Bonners Ferry for 24 years. Foreman John Galbraith has worked for the city for 14 years. Tim English and Scooter Drake perform maintenance full time and have been with the city eight and five years respectively. Dave Kelley has worked on parks maintenance for the city part time for the last three summers.

"It's just like taking care of your own yard," said John. "We are always out pulling weeds, mowing, trimming and edging. We take care of about 75 hanging flower baskets that take a lot of time, fertilizing and making sure that the water works right. It keeps us busy."

Every single street within the city limits is under the jurisdiction of the Street and Parks Department. John estimates that the crew maintains 50 lane miles within the city limits including constructing, repairing and maintaining the streets, painting centerlines as well as stenciling crosswalks, turn lanes and stop bars, doing chip seal, grader patching and hand patching on the streets with hot asphalt, and washing all the streets downtown early every Friday morning.

"We completely clean town once a year in the spring," John emphasized. "We sweep and wash every street, which takes about two and a half weeks."

The Street and Parks Department also grades the gravel roads, applies dust control, hauls and stockpiles sand and gravel, constructs and maintains all the sidewalks, curbs, gutters, storm drains, catch basins, culverts, ditches and anything that pertains to water drainage. They cut weeds and brush in the right of ways as well as keeping them clear of clutter and garbage. All the street signs and posts are constructed and maintained by the crew.

"These are all good guys, talented and well-rounded. Everyone can do everything. They are a very experienced crew. They want the town to look nice. When they are done with a project, they want it nice and to be done right," John commented.

The mini-parks within the city limits, such as Georgia Mae Plaza, are all maintained by the Street and Parks Department. This includes raking leaves, trimming bushes, mowing, edging, thatching lawns, and maintaining and repairing the sprinkler systems. John estimated that there are about seven acres of grass to mow, bag and trim once or twice a week during?the summer months. They empty all?the garbage cans and sweep?the sidewalks to keep them free of sand and dirt.

"Besides all the parks and the streets, we do a lot of the building maintenance, repairs and handyman stuff for the city properties," John added. "We also operate and maintain all our own vehicles and equipment."

Then winter arrives and the crew switches into another gear entirely.

"In the winter, every time it snows, we haul about 50 to 70 truckloads of snow out of downtown," said John. "We blow snow from the sidewalks starting at Boundary Trading Company, all the way across the bridge and all the way to the hospital, sometimes doing it twice a day. It takes a full day to do that."

In addition to the gargantuan task of snow removal, the Street and Parks Department sprays anti-ice chemicals before storms which helps keep the snow from bonding on the road surface. This also helps control water and dew from freezing on roads.

John is proud of the hard work his crew puts in each and every day. He said that they have had a hand in designing and building a lot of the city parking lots as well as the block wall leading to the tunnel that goes to the casino. In their "spare time," the crew is currently building an addition to the fire station.

"We do it all one day at a time," John chuckled. "The guys really like it. They enjoy the job and enjoy the projects. They are always thinking outside the box and coming up with ideas to make things better. These men take a lot of pride in what they do every day and I believe they make a huge impact on the operation and the positive perception that the city has to the community and also the visitors who travel through."


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