Paw Paw officials say they did what they had to during blizzard
Paw Paw Mayor Alton Wolfe said he helped dig out the town during the February blizzards because he was asked to help in a desperate situation.
He said he did so at a discounted price and did not do town snow removal during any other snows.
Wolfe’s company was paid $5,700 for 57 hours of snow removal. The money was paid from the town’s general fund and the cemetery fund, not the water fund, said town employees.
Wolfe was not paid anything personally because he donated his time, said Town Recorder Regina Brack.
Brack and Town Clerk Tina Lewis said the town had no one to turn to since there was no response to their snow removal advertisement. The former snow removal contractor retired and sold his company.
Wolfe shared invoices and copies of checks that showed his company, F & S Contracting, LLP, was paid for $4,800 on March 3 for snow removal work out of the town’s general fund.
The company billed the town $6,480 at $135 an hour for 48 hours of snow removal time, but gave the town a discount of $1,680.
Wolfe said he donated more than 50 hours of his labor and didn’t charge for the equipment that he ran. He charged time for his son Adam Wolfe’s labor and equipment.
Wolfe’s company was also paid $900 on February 18 for nine hours of work for Adam Wolfe digging out Camp Hill Cemetery.
The bill was for $1,215, but the town was given a discount of $315. Money was transferred from the cemetery fund to cover the bill.
Wolfe’s son works part-time for the town as needed. He was paid minimum wage for the job, Wolfe said.
Wolfe said he left the building when the Paw Paw Town Council discussed and voted on which applicant to hire for the job.
Fulltime town employee Jackie Delawder and part-time worker Adam Carder also dug out the town.
Paw Paw’s total bill for snow removal during the blizzards was around $8,000, Wolfe said. That included payment to a resident who helped plow with his garden tractor and $200 for pizza to feed National Guardsmen who assisted snow removal efforts.
They received reimbursement for all of the blizzard snow removal costs from FEMA, Wolfe said.
The Paw Paw Council approved both payments to his company, Wolfe said. Two council members must sign every check.
Wolfe shared bills from other contractors whose prices were comparable to what he billed.
Brack said they received a frantic call from Kimble Funeral Home who had a burial scheduled and couldn’t get into the cemetery.
“We didn’t know what else to do,” she said, explaining why they asked for Wolfe’s help.
Wolfe moved his equipment back to town from a job in Winchester to help during the blizzards. He said he barely made it back to town before the snow got too bad.
Wolfe brought in a 325 John Deere Skidsteer with a 6-ft.-wide bucket on front and a 4330 Kubota tractor with a front end loader and a power angle blade in back.
Brack said the town was buried by the blizzards and elderly residents were snowed in for a week and needed medicines.
They had no choice but to ask Wolfe to help, Lewis said.
The National Guard was brought in to help dig out and check on residents.
Wolfe said the snow put him in a Catch-22 position of getting grief whether he helped or didn’t during the emergency. He said he wouldn’t do it again since he’s taken so much flak over it.
Brack said she doesn’t know what they’ll do if Paw Paw gets hit by another major snowstorm. They plan to re-advertise for snow removal and hope someone responds.
They didn’t know what they would have done without the National Guard during the blizzards, Wolfe said.
“We would’ve been in bad trouble,” he said.
Everyone pulled together to get through the emergency and to feed and house the National Guardsmen, he said.
“We did what we had to do to survive,” Wolfe said.