Snow plow gets a tow

PAT FRIDGEN

A mechanical problem on Valentine's Day caused an Antrim Township snow plow to take off across Orchard Road in Waynesboro, according to an Antrim official. It was disabled and had to be towed back to Antrim.

Board chairman Rick Baer did not return numerous phone messages to explain what happened. Administrator Brad Graham offered an account. Roadmaster Paul Minnich had been called out by Franklin County Control early in the day for blowing and drifting roads. When the work was done, he decided to keep the large plow at his home in anticipation of more calls. While he was in the cab, the throttle stuck and the large truck ended up on another property.

Minnich called an hourly Antrim employee, who came in another Antrim vehicle, to pull out the plow. He was not successful. Minnich then called a Waynesboro towing company.

The unit was returned to the municipal lot and is now at a shop under repair. "We're not sure what caused the problem," said Graham. "It is getting diagnosed."

He added that there were reports similar issues had occurred with that model of truck.

Bobby Hamner from Hamner's Garage, 6557 Buchanan Trail E., said he received the call about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, February 14. He found the snow plow 200 feet off the road. The Antrim duo had taken the plow off the truck so it could be towed. Hamner brought a skid loader out on a rollback to dig around the trapped vehicle, then hauled it to the township with a large wrecker.

Antrim's policy on employees taking vehicles home became controversial in 2006. Supervisor Sam Miller expressed concern that October. At the time, the township manager, who was also emergency management coordinator, the roadmaster and the utilities superintendent could take vehicles home overnight since they were on call for emergencies.

In January 2008 on a Miller/Curtis Myers motion, Fred Young III and Rick Baer agreed that all township vehicles should remain on Antrim property except for the roadmaster, who could take a truck home from Nov. 1 to April 1. James Byers voted no to the idea.

The issue was reviewed in June 2008 with no changes in policy made. In August the administrator, roadmaster and utilities superintendent were among six employees fired.

Minnich was promoted to roadmaster/maintenance superintendent in September. In October he told the press he had been taking a township vehicle home. Young said it was acceptable. "We've given him complete discretion as he sees fit. We want him prepared."

Graham said Monday Minnich had been taking home a pickup truck each evening during the winter. The decision to keep a snow plow at home that day was not specifically allowed or disallowed. He supported Minnich's action, in his role as roadmaster, to decide it was prudent to have the plow readily accessible.                                                                                            Minnich resigned Feb. 15.