Some folks rejoice, others frustrated by mess

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As a long-awaited winter storm dumped up to 8 inches of snow in some areas of Maine, local residents had different reactions to the messy weather.

A couple walking along Holland Street in Lewiston admired the snow-covered scenery on a winter stroll. “We love it; the snow is great,” Christine Obie exclaimed.

Wesley Burgess, a plow man with M.J.L.D. Property, also rejoiced in the snow.

“We just need more of it now,” he said as he and his partner worked to plow a Pine Street driveway.

While most agreed that the state’s economy is in desperate need of snow and the tourist business it brings, the storm also brought unexpected nuisances to some people.

Brian Banton, a resident of Spruce Street in Lewiston, looked out his window Sunday night to find his car being towed from his usual spot on the side of the road.

“How was I supposed to know there was a parking ban?” he asked. “There’s 2 inches of snow and they make it a major emergency.”

Banton was looking for a way to come up with the $100 it would take to get his car back so that he could make it to work in the morning. He was so irate about it, he placed a call to his city councilor Monday night.

“The worse part is they towed my car and then didn’t even plow where it had been parked,” he said.

Lewiston police Sgt. Danny Lachance said complaints about winter weather parking bans are not new.

“This happens every year.”

The parking ban in Lewiston started at 3 p.m. Monday and will stay in place until 3 p.m. today.

Although police received calls about towed vehicles, weather-related accidents turned out to be of minimal concern.

Lewiston recorded a couple of accidents, while Auburn police Lt. Tim Cougle could recall only one throughout the day.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office handled three accidents for the entire county. Franklin County reported four crashes due to slippery roads, but many calls for help with broken down vehicles.

According to Aaron Scalia, a worker with the Auburn street department, roads in that city were passable by 7 p.m. Monday.

“We’ve been fighting this for the past 16 hours,” he said. “The storm has gone slow enough so that we could maintain the roads.”

Across the bridge in Lewiston, on-road public works supervisor Dick Morin predicted that the roads would be in good shape by 7 a.m. today.

“Crews will probably be out there until 4 a.m.,” he said Monday. “Right now they’re rescraping the roads and salting and sanding crews are right behind them.”

He credited the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday with keeping a lot of traffic off the streets and making it easier for crews to do their jobs.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Hayes said the storm did just what he expected it to do: spread a “large swath of mixed precipitation over Maine.”

In central Maine, where sleet and freezing rain began falling around 3 p.m. Monday, snowfall totals will only amount to between 2 and 4 inches, Hayes said.

As of Monday evening, Rumford had reported the highest accumulation outside of mountain areas with 8 inches. In Franklin County, Farmington reported a depth of 5 inches of snow.

“This storm, and the upcoming cold temperatures really is typical January weather,” Hayes said.

He predicts that by Wednesday morning, temperatures will be hovering near or below zero.

“We’ve been so warm this so-called winter it is going to be a shock.”

Sugarloaf USA ski area’s communications manager Bill Swain expects to see an increase in skiers despite the coming frigid temperatures.

“I almost guarantee that a good charge of people will be waiting for the lifts to open at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow,” he said Monday night.

Swain reported that 10 inches of snow had fallen at the base of the mountain, while higher elevations saw close to a foot of the white powder, making for the “best skiing of the season so far.

“It’s about time and a little behind schedule, but we’ll take it when we can get it,” Hayes said.

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