By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN In the 16 seasons Calvin Anderson of Dassel has operated a snow plow for Meeker County, he has seen residents and motorists grow more responsible about safety during and after snowstorms.
Anderson said he remembers when it was common for residents to push snow out of their driveways and into the road. The snow packs and turns hard. “When you hit those hard piles, it spins you,” Anderson said.
Few residents around the Dassel area and in Collinwood Township do that anymore, he said.
Motorists also usually stay out of the snowplow’s way when he’s out on the road, Anderson added.
However, drivers are more persnickety about how much snow they are willing to drive on. What used to be called nuisance snow, must be plowed. Meeker County is already plowing and using sand in November, he said.
“People nowadays want dry blacktop,” Anderson said.
He has seen motorists drive too fast when the roads are sloppy, he added.
Anderson has seen some really bad road conditions. He remembers one snowstorm that produced snowbanks six feet high. It was heavy and wet and the engine on the grader he was driving had to push through it with maximum power. On the west side of Collinwood Township, one stretch of road took a half day to plow, Anderson recalled.
Five years ago, Anderson plowed in a blizzard. He couldn’t see much of anything in front of his vehicle and crept along slowly. By the time he got to the area near Anderson Seed, south of Dassel, he received word from Meeker County, the plows were being pulled from the roads. Conditions were too dangerous to continue, he said.
Anderson’s plowing territory is around Dassel, east to Wright County, south to McLeod County, and west to Highway 15. However, he also plows Meeker County State Aid Highway 18 to the Belle Lake area, he said.
Anderson remembered a man from Collinwood Township complaining bitterly about how the roads in McLeod County were plowed so much better than Meeker County’s were. Anderson brought out a map. He showed the man the roads he thought were in McLeod County were actually in Meeker County and were plowed by Anderson.
“He was pretty quiet after that,” Anderson said.
During the summer and construction season, Anderson works for Nordberg’s Excavation of Dassel. He lives south of Dassel on 2.8 acres.
When Anderson was young, he loved to watch the snowplow clear the snow from the roads in his neighborhood. Morris Latt was the snowplow operator for the Dassel area, he said.
The first 11 years with Meeker County he plowed with a grader. Now he uses a truck, Anderson said.
When it snows or if snow is predicted, Anderson is called by Jimmy Stewart of the county highway department to come to the county shed and pick up the truck plow. The shed is in Dassel, just south of Schmidty’s along Highway 12.
If heavy snow is predicted, Anderson will spend the night in the shed with the plows or at his father’s home in Dassel, so he is nearby when it is time to start plowing, he said.