Letter: Terry Sisk, Leesburg

Editor: A snowstorm is an act of nature, and no one can predict when the next mega-storm will arrive (next year, 10 years?). So I was saddened to read this paper’s opinion piece blaming the Town of Leesburg for a failure in road-clearing strategy (i.e., “something went horribly wrong”, “poor performance”, etc.). We live in a culture of finger pointing, stressing that someone else is to blame, and that if those people only had our wisdom, things would be made right. That attitude is poppycock.

I’ve lived in northern Virginia for more than sixty years, so I know that thirty-four inches of snow from one storm is rare. When we’re faced with the challenge of removing such a quantity of snow, we do the best that circumstances allow. I live in one of Leesburg’s subdivisions mentioned in your editorial, but the guys who usually shovel driveways for me and most of my neighbors couldn’t get into our neighborhood. They couldn’t even walk down a street covered in waist-height snowfall if they tried. But it never occurred to me to blame town officials for my being snowed in. If anyone was to blame, it was Mother Nature.

Worse, Supervisor (and former Leesburg Mayor) Kristen Umstattd was quoted on your front page as saying that the town’s snow removal plan of clearing primary roads first “seriously and unnecessarily” jeopardized public safety. Really? Citizens of some towns in nearby Montgomery County, MD, criticized their own jurisdictions for doing just the opposite—raging that subdivision roads serving few people were clear, while major routes remained narrow and slushy.

I’m proud of the way our town responded to this recent snow emergency. Snow removal equipment operated day and night. Neighbors helped neighbors, and most of us were adequately prepared to be house-bound for an extended period. Seldom has a snowstorm been so accurately predicted, especially so far in advance, and almost no one lost electricity. For that, we should all be thankful.

Terry Sisk, Leesburg


2 thoughts on “Letter: Terry Sisk, Leesburg

  • 2016-02-02 at 10:04 pm

    I supported Kristen’s observations about how the town prioritized its plowing efforts. But I guess some folks like Mr. Sisk did not take kindly to Ms. Umstattd’s Monday morning quarterbacking, especially given the fact she was only mayor four weeks ago. When I was Leesburg Supervisor, I made a policy not to interfere or publicly comment on purely town matters and if the Council voted on something county-related, I would do their bidding on the Board level (Bicounty Parkway being an exception) . But in the past year, I publicly criticized the Council’s inaction on several issues, especially where Town staff went against their wishes on issues. Canceling their regular meeting last Tuesday where they could have directed different priorities for plowing is an example of the lack of consensus and focus by our governing body in Leesburg.

  • 2016-02-02 at 12:29 pm

    Although somewhat silly to respond to a citizen’s opinion, I do think in this instance the opinion actually does harm to Leesburg residents. As has been clearly demonstrated, this particular snow removal was a 180 degree change from the approach taken last year, and the year before, and the year before, and for many years before that (I think you get the idea). It is very appropriate to blame the Town Manager, and the current Leesburg Town Council for this snow fall response, because it did in fact endanger Leesburg residents. Public safety is non-negotiable in my view. That is why I am now advocating that this November all Town Council incumbents running for re-election in the Town of Leesburg be voted out of office. We can no longer put up with the incompetence of Tom Dunn, Dave Butler, and Katie Hammler.

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