By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
The Missouri Department of Transportation is trying to hire snow plow operators and maintenance workers before the winter is over.
Marty Liles, District Engineer for the MoDOT Northwest Region says they advertised for these open positions early in the fall. Now that winter is here, they're still trying to hire people to drive snow plows.
"A lot of companies are having problems trying to hire people and keep them and keep their labor force going," Liles said. "We're struggling to statewide to have those employees hired."
Liles says there are plenty of snow plow trucks - it's now a matter of finding enough employees who are available to operate them around the clock in emergency situations.
"One of the things we still struggle with is having enough people to maintain the snow trucks 24 hours a day."
Full-time maintenance workers and emergency snow plow operators are what's needed for MoDOT, which has 1,580 snow plow trucks statewide, including 181 in the Northwest region.
Applicants need to be at least 18 years old, successfully complete a criminal background check and have a commercial driver’s license.
For now, Liles says the Northwest District works with other districts statewide to move employees around to make sure there are enough snow plow drivers available to clear the roads in areas of the state that are being impacted by winter weather.
"We really work with our neighboring districts whenever we have an emergency operation to move people around to try and help out," Liles said. "Depending on the labor force and on the winter event that you actually have."
Northwest Missouri saw its first significant winter storm during the New Years weekend, where nearly a foot of snow was predicted for the region. Fortunately, Liles says, it didn't pan out that way, and the roads were cleared without any problems.
"They were predicting anywhere from 11-12 inches of snow for (the Northwest) region," he said. "Fortunately, we didn't get that much. I think we had places with maybe as much as five inches?"
While MoDOT continues to try and fill their snow plow driver vacancies, Liles also reminds everyday motorists to be ready when winter weather strikes.
"Be prepared," he said. "Have things in place. Make sure to look at our traveler information map. Really look at what the conditions of the roads are going to be and plan accordingly."
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