ARKWRIGHT – The Town of Arkwright Highway Superintendent is feeling the heat after first responders had trouble getting to calls on snow-covered roadways in December.
Incoming Cassadaga Fire Chief Chris Wichlacz spoke at a recent town meeting expressing his concern for impassable roads.
“Our roads were terrible,” said Chief Wichlacz. “There was absolutely no way on the 27th that we could have gotten an ambulance, fire engine or tanker (through) if there was an emergency.”
Wichlacz said a dispatcher attempted to call Superintendent James Ziemba to dispatch snow plows but was unsuccessful.
“A dispatcher called you (Superintendent Ziemba) before he called me,” said Wichlacz. “You didn’t return his call, you didn’t answer the phone.”
“If it comes through this phone and it rings, I answer it,” replied Superintendent Ziemba.
“It can not happen again. If somebody dies on my watch, or a house burns down on my watch and it’s my fault, I’ll take the responsibility,” said Wichlacz. “If it’s your fault, I’m talking to them (points at our news camera).”
Superintendent Ziemba was unavailable for comment but we did speak with Arkwright Town Councilman Roger Cardot who agreed that impassable roads with no snow plow in sight is unacceptable.
“He’s gotta learn from his experiences too, but we have to try and help him in some fashion,” said Cardot. “If it means pointing out the obvious and letting him know there’s a better way, and just because maybe someone before him did it the same way, doesn’t mean it was right.”
Currently, the Town of Arkwright operates plows from 3 AM to 8 PM with crews working in two shifts.
In the event of extreme snow, the Town Highway Superintendent is responsible for calling plow drivers in.