Cheney Free Press -

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Snow protocol - or who does what when the white stuff falls


Last updated 1/26/2020 at 1:55pm

CHENEY – While temperatures are warming, with the end of winter still officially over two months away the chances are still good the area will see more snow - including some heavy snowfalls.

For instance, after a fairly dry January, February 2019 turned out to be the snowiest February in more than 100 years and the second snowiest on record - tallying over 30 inches for the month.

If history repeats itself, snow will need to be removed from the streets and also from the sidewalks, parking lots and essential equipment such as fire hydrants. While Cheney has ordinances governing when the plows roll and how, taking care of the other aspects of getting about is a little murkier.

"We don't have an enforceable code," Public Works Director Todd Ableman said about keeping sidewalks clear. "A lot of residents take it upon themselves to remove snow on sidewalks and city crews try to remove snow from streets and sidewalks if hazards begin to develop."

City codes do govern where that snow can and cannot go. Those codes state "no person, firm or corporation shall shovel, push, doze or by other means remove any snow from any service station lot or driveway, any parking lot, any private driveway or other private property and deposit the same upon any curbing, parking strip, sidewalk, or upon any alley or city street within the corporate limits of the city."

The exception to this is for removing snow from a public sidewalk and for loading snow onto a truck or other vehicle for purposes of carting it away. With regards to the latter the code also notes that "Snow sliding from roofs of any building or other structure upon any street or alley shall be construed to have been removed by the owner or tenant thereof and the same shall be immediately removed by truck or other vehicle from such street or alley at the expense of the owner or tenant."

When it comes to fire hydrants, Fire Chief Tom Jenkins pointed to a flyer the department hands out to residents with hydrants on their property. According to the flyer, if you have a hydrant on your property it's up to you to keep a three-foot circumference space around the hydrant free of any obstruction - including not only snow, but trees, shrubs, grass or other growth along with trash or a similar obstruction.

It's also up to the resident to report any damage done to fire hydrants so that repairs can be made.

For residents who may have difficulty taking care of their sidewalks and any hydrants, there are resources available. The Snow Angels were created in 2013 by Councilman John Taves for the purpose of identifying and linking "Cheney residents who are physically unable to shovel snow with those who are able and willing to volunteer to do it for them."

Assistance can be provided by calling the city's Public Works Department at 598-9293 or City Hall at 498-9200 during regular business hours. According to the city's December newsletter, one of the organizations providing snow shoveling assistance this year is Eastern Washington University fraternity Kappa Sigma.

John McCallum can be reached at


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