Mitchell is stricter on towing than some citiesFor residents who had a vehicle ticketed and towed Wednesday, Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg has a simple rhyme to help prevent it from happening again. “When it doubt, get it out,” Overweg said.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
For residents who had a vehicle ticketed and towed Wednesday, Mitchell Public Safety Chief Lyndon Overweg has a simple rhyme to help prevent it from happening again.
“When it doubt, get it out,” Overweg said.
The city wrote 95 tickets and towed 12 vehicles Wednesday after declaring a snow emergency — by sending text alerts to subscribers of that service, placing an alert on the city website and announcing the emergency to local media — at 6 a.m. Towing started shortly after that.
Those ticket and tow totals are “very typical” after a storm, Overweg said.
A snowstorm that had been forecast for several days made its appearance early Wednesday, dumping about 3 inches of snow on the city.
Mitchell can declare a snow emergency if 2 inches of snow falls. This was the second time an emergency was declared this winter.
Overweg said no matter when the snowstorm happens, the city has to get streets plowed as soon as possible.
“Especially emergency routes,” he said. “We have to keep them open for emergency vehicles.”
Overweg said ideally, the storms would hit in the daytime or during the evening, but sometimes that doesn’t happen.
“It all depends when the snow falls,” he said. “Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate every time.”
That’s why he said police advise people to park on non-emergency route streets that run north to south, Overweg said.
Those are the last streets plowed, and parking there will give people more time to move their vehicles.
The fine for parking on a street when it is to be plowed is $25.
That doubles if the fine is not paid within 48 hours.
That fine is set by the City Council, and the money is placed in the city general fund, Overweg said. Finance Officer Marilyn Wilson said all city parking tickets brought in about $21,000 in 2011.
A tow can cost $150 or more depending on how the vehicle is moved. An extra fee is added to the tow for vehicles that have to be placed on a trailer or for other special circumstances.
Overweg said towing fees are set in an annual meeting with the city and the four tow companies who work with the city. The city calls the tow companies on a rotating basis, he said.
Huron isn’t as swift to tow vehicles, nor does it charge as much when it does.
Huron Police Chief Gary D. Will Jr. said on Wednesday, the city declared a snow emergency around noon and made sure it was announced in all local media and on electronic reader-boards in the city. In addition, orange traffic cones were set up with signs on them to alert people to the emergency.
Huron charges $35 for a ticket for parking along a snow emergency route. That increases to $50 after seven days and, if ignored long enough, can lead to a court summons and a $500 fine and 30 days in jail, he said.
Huron signs an annual contract with one towing firm for all police tows, he said. The rate is set at $75 during the day, $85 at night.
Will said 40 tickets were issued for parking in a snow emergency route Wednesday, but no vehicles were towed.
Brookings Police Chief Jeff Miller said that city’s parking tickets along snow emergency routes costs $35, which increases to $50 after seven days. A failure to pay it can result in a complaint being issued and the vehicle’s owner could end up in court, he said.
The city contracts with three towing firms who take turns by the week doing police tows. He said the fee varies from company to company.
Brookings didn’t declare a snow emergency Wednesday and has not done so all year, but the city did tow two vehicles that were left downtown, he said.
When the city issues a snow emergency, it gives people four hours to move a vehicle, he said, and often more than that. Miller said the snow emergencies are declared during the day and plowing is delayed to ensure people can move their vehicles.
“We would never issue a parking ban in the middle of the night,” he said.
Overweg said he feels Mitchell does the right thing by clearing streets on emergency routes as soon as possible. Safety must come first, he said.
“I think Mitchell’s heard a lot of compliments on how we do it,” he said. “I think Mitchell is more advanced.”
Overweg encourages residents to sign up for the city’s text-alert service, which city officials use to notify residents of snow emergencies and other announcements. To sign up, go to nixle.com. Signing up for the service is free, and messages come at standard text-messaging rates.