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Kelly Smith, Published December 17 2008

Mail carriers urge residents to clear snow

It’s up to John Pierce and his colleagues to decide if you get your mail today.

“They don’t get it until they shovel,” the mail carrier said, bypassing a north Fargo home with snow-covered steps.

A few houses later, and a half-shoveled sidewalk passed Pierce’s test: “This isn’t too bad,” he said, dropping letters in the porch mailbox.

After Sunday’s blizzard, mail carriers and area city officials are warning homeowners, renters and businesses alike to follow the ordinances and keep sidewalks clear.

After a snowfall, Fargo and West Fargo residents and businesses have 24 hours to clear sidewalks in front of their property lines. Otherwise, violators could receive a warning – followed by a fee to have the city do it themselves.

Likewise, West Fargo residents and businesses could face a $35 fee plus a contractor fee, Director of Public Works Barry Johnson said.

“We haven’t had many problems in the past,” he said. “But we also haven’t had this much snow.”

Moorhead residents and businesses have to clear walks by 9 p.m. after a storm. If they don’t, they’ll receive a warning and two or three days to comply. Otherwise, they could face an administrative fee of $100 and an additional contractor fee of $35 an hour, said Moorhead Neighborhood Services Manager Lisa Vatnsdal.

“It applies to anyone with a sidewalk,” she said. “Our goal is compliance – not to fine people. We just want to make sure people can get around.”

And that means those mail carriers stomping through snow drifts to deliver today’s mounting holiday mail.

“We’ll probably give them a couple days to dig out,” Fargo Postmaster Greg Johnson said.

He and other city officials say that, after a storm like last weekend’s winter blast, they’ll be a little more lenient with policies.

But for area mail carriers, it isn’t just about ordinances – but rather, residents making their jobs a little easier and safer during the snowy season.

“We’ve had several broken bones,” Johnson said of accidents in the past few years. “Just help us out – keep your sidewalks, steps and receptacles clear of snow. If people want their mail … they have to keep it clean.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515