Agencies still looking to hire snowplow drivers for the season

NOW: Agencies still looking to hire snowplow drivers for the season

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. –-The first major snowstorm of the year has already blanketed Southwest Michigan with wet, heavy snow—and Michiana drivers have already confronted slick conditions and poor visibility out on those roadways.

But the state and county plow drivers were already geared up to take on the fresh snowfall.

MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa told ABC57 “Our plows are ready; our salt barns are full—we’re sitting on top of thirty-thousand tons right now for our southern county region. All our plows are gassed up, oiled up, our blades are sharp, we’re ready to go.”

For both MDOT and the Berrien County Road Department, this year, they say they have more staff than they did back in 2020 and 2021, tackling the various routes that they cover, spanning over forty miles of road for some drives.

But there are still gaps that need to be filled.

“One hundred and forty-four operators are our magic number. We’re just shy of that now,” Schirripa said.

MDOT said so far thirty-three applicants have reached out to fill out the positions they need, but they are still looking to hire at least nine plow operators.

According to Schirripa, all an applicant needs to qualify is a class B CDL license.

Mark Heyliger, director of the Berrien County Road Department, said they are in a similar situation, and are working to hire more plow drivers. This year, they’re even helping applicants earn their CDL.

“For the first time ever, we’re hiring people and helping them gain their CDL licenses,” said Heyliger. “They have just started the classroom portion of the CDL, so we have about five personnel that are attending CDL class with the anticipation of them getting their CDL.”

Heyliger added that they had a very positive response attracting applicants at the Berrien County Youth Fair.

Schirripa said that having so many positions already filled made him feel optimistic for the Winter.

Both stressed, though, that their main priority is to keep the roads safe for those that need to use them.

“Our priority right now is the safe cleanup of the roads,” said Heyliger.

Schirripa added “It’s wintertime. Remember to reduce your speeds, eliminate your distractions and by all means if you see a plow, give them room to do their jobs. Remember that they’re moving slower than you are, and those are big, heavy vehicles and they need more time to slow down and more room to turn, so give them room to do what they need to do.”

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