Chesterton Tribune



Town Council talks mailboxes and garbage in Polar Vortex debrief

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If you’re one of the folks in Chesterton who lost a mailbox during the town’s Polar Vortex cleanup, you may be able to get reimbursed for the cost of replacing it.

As Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg told the Town Council at its meeting Monday night, the sheer weight of the snow moved by the plowsÑnot the plows themselvesÑappears to have snapped “quite a few mailboxes” off their posts.

After consulting with some other municipalities, Schnadenberg designed a claim form which residents may submit for reimbursement. He did make one thing clear. “We’re not really liable for the snow knocking mailboxes off,” Schnadenberg said. “But from a public relations point of view, we want to compensate owners.”

He added that the Street Department itself can’t “physically” make the repairs itself, as it has neither the time nor the manpower.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann, who has reviewed the claim form, noted that residents must submit a photo of the damaged mailbox along with the form; that Schnadenberg himself will review each application; that residents must purchase the same or a comparable mailbox; and that labor is limited to $25.

Members voted 4-0 to approve the policy and the form, which is obtainable from the Street Department at 1490 Broadway or on the town’s website at

“It’s an accident of nature,” remarked Member Jim Ton, R-1st. “No one is running down mailboxes.”

Garbage Pickup After the Snow

Meanwhile, some folks have been “disconcerted”Ñto use Ton’s wordÑto find that Able Disposal didn’t collect their refuse and recycling last week, in the day’s after the storm.

That wasn’t because the Street Department hadn’t plowed the streets or cleared the alleys. In fact, as of Monday night, Jan. 6, all public rights-of-way in the town had been made passable. Rather, it was simply because the snow slowed everything down and the bitter temperatures were playing havoc with the garbage trucks’ hydraulics, Schnadenberg said.

Able will be collecting all garbage this week, whatever’s inside the can and whatever’s outside. “Everything that’s been accumulated, they will pick up,” Ton promised. “It sounds like (Able is) trying to make an effort to make it right.”

Schnadenberg, however, drew the line on reimbursements, which some residents have requested. “I explained to them that this is a rare occurrence,” he said.

Praise for the Street Department

Member Nick Walding, R-3rd, did take a moment to extend his gratitude to the Street Department’s plow crews for taking the battle to Mother Nature. He also noted that their success is a “testament” to the council’s investment in good equipment. “The plows were out on the roads during the storm, not in the shop getting repaired,” he said.

Schnadenberg, for his part, gave credit where credit is due, not only to his own plow drivers but to those from the other departments. “Over the last 10 years every truck the town has bought has come with a plow,” he said. “Before that we had to hire contractors after heavy snows. Now we’re able to do it all in-house.”

Schnadenberg also attributed the Street Department’s rapid response during the storm to three things: having a good snow plan in the first place; having “dedicated employees”; and having “reliable equipment.”


Posted 1/14/2014