Snow supplies run low

Last week's blast of wintry weather left people scrambling for shovels and de-icer, and store shelves across the Valley emptied soon after the snow hit Sunday and many are still waiting for more shipments almost a week later.

"We're out of everything," said Melissa Abbott, a cashier at Bi-Mart in Ashland. "When it first started snowing, we ran out within about the first hour. We've been out of de-icer for about two weeks because we've been on backorder. The warehouse is out."

Hubbard's Ace Home Center on South Pacific Highway in Medford got a new shipment of de-icer in on Thursday, but it disappeared before it hit the shelves.

"Everything that came in was already earmarked for somebody else," said a customer service employee who asked to remain nameless.

Their customers are out of luck until Monday when the next shipment is scheduled to arrive.

Calls from customers looking for de-icer poured into Ashland Hardware throughout the week, said cashier Danielle Peplinski, and although they normally refer customers to other area stores once they have sold out, this week there was nowhere to send them. They finally received a 3,000-pound shipment on Thursday, she said, and by Friday morning, only about 1,200 pounds remained.

City supplies steady

The city of Ashland uses cinders on local roads, and the stockpile from the summer and fall is still looking strong, said Jim Olson, interim public works director.

And although city employees have racked up overtime dealing with the storms around the clock, the budget for snow removal should suffice for the remaining winter months.

"We usually gear up for several days or longer of snow removal," he said. "That's just part of our normal process."

The city does contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation to apply de-icer to main city streets and bridges, and until recently, supplies were running low.

"Our supplies were getting lower than what we would have liked, but we just replenished, so we're good to go again," said Gary Leaming, a spokesman for ODOT.

When they are running low, they focus on problem areas such as Siskiyou Summit, bridges and passes north of Grants Pass.

Finding alternatives

Although the city doesn't directly apply de-icer to city streets, they do clear and de-ice the sidewalks in front of downtown stores between Granite Street and the Ashland Public Library, Olson said.

Xandria Thompson, a store manager at Zoey's Caf&

233; All Natural Ice Cream, said the store's employees didn't even realize their sidewalks would be cleared until they a mysterious person sprinkling de-icer on the sidewalks.

At her home on Ashland Mine Road, Thompson doesn't bother with de-icer or salt: "We just kind of trudged through it."

For businesses outside downtown that would prefer their customers didn't trudge through drifts or slip into the street, they're left to their own devices.

The staff at Starbucks on the east end of town found a creative way to get around hardware store shortages.

"We actually just go across the street to Market of Choice and buy the ice cream salt," said store manager Erin McCreary.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or . To post a comment on this story, go to .

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