Oxford Hills was slammed with its sixth snowstorm in the past 10 days Wednesday, leaving schools closed for the third day this week and road crews exhausted amid growing concerns over road sand and salt supplies. 

“There ain’t much left,” Oxford Highway Department employee Nate Meserve said of the town’s sand and salt pile.

He said much of the 5,000 to 6,000 cubic yards bought at the beginning of the winter is frozen because it is uncovered.

More sand than usual has been used this winter because of ice and rain mixed in with many of the storms, he said.

Norway Town Manager David Holt said the town typically orders between 5,000 and 8,000 cubic yards of sand, depending on how much is left from the previous year.

“Believe it or not, around this time of year, we usually start using a lot less sand because the temperatures start to warm up,” he said. “We’ll be using less sand around this time of year, but people won’t realize that because of the storms we’ve had.”


Holt said the town’s sand supply was almost depleted, but he wasn’t worried about it.

“If we have to get some more, we will,” Holt said. “We’ve been somewhat spoiled by the easy winters over the last few years.”

He said the number of storms in such a short period have been “pretty tough on the crew. They’ve been working some hard hours, and I think that they’ve done a great job keeping the roads safe.” 

While Holt said that he did not have an updated tally of overtime hours for the Highway Department over the past week, he added, “I know that we’ve spent a lot more on overtime that we have in many years.”

West Paris Town Manager Wade Rainey said the town ordered 2,000 cubic yards of sand at the beginning of the season. While the snowstorms over the past week did not completely deplete the stockpile, Rainey said the town recently ordered another 500 cubic yards “just in case.”

“I expect after the last few storms that those yards are just about gone,” he said.


Rainey said the Highway Department is “pushing right up against” its overtime budget.

“We haven’t gone over, but we’re pushing it pretty hard,” he said.

Even with the Oxford Hills getting blasted with what feels like constant snow, Paris Town Manager Vic Hodgkins said the town is doing OK financially.

“While under pressure from the last two weeks of nonstop storms, we are still within budget for wages, overtime, and salt,” he wrote in an email. He said Highway Director Jamie Hutchinson told him the town’s salt supply had dwindled and more would be delivered soon.

In Buckfield, Town Manager Cindy Dunn said the highway crew is still pulling sand from the town’s stockpile, which has 1,000 yards left.

“It is possible that we might need to have more winter sand brought in,” she said. “It all depends on how many more storms and the type of storms we get from this point forward.”


As for the town’s salt supply, roughly 795 tons were purchased for this year. Last year, Buckfield purchased 583 tons and in 2015, that total was 950 tons.

The amount has not been consistent, “but who are we to argue with Mother Nature?” Dunn said.

Harrison Town Manager George “Bud” Finch noted that the earlier winter storms were mixes of snow, rain and sleet, which took tolls on the salt and sand supply.

“Budget-wise, we are in fair shape if there is not too much more winter to deal with,” Finch wrote in an email. “In comparison — full-time driver overtime is at 72 percent (of the budgeted amount), while it was only 71 percent all of last winter, part-time drivers are at 52 percent, while only 53 percent all of last winter and sand/salt is at 113 percent as compared to last year at 92 percent for all of last year.”

Between Monday’s and Wednesday’s snowstorms, the town had received at least 3 feet of snow and the highway crew had not had a chance to push the snowbanks back.

“As tough as this winter has been on the budget, our biggest concern has been how tough it is on our drivers as the storms have all come together in a short period of time,” Finch said. “This winter has brought a combination of types of winter weather, which puts a strain on the crew, the equipment and the resources.”

An employee with the Norway Highway Department plows Main Street sidewalks on Feb. 7. Oxford Hills was hit Wednesday into Thursday with its sixth snowstorm in the past 10 days.

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