The Town of Leesburg is preparing for the winter weather before it is even forecast.
For the first time this winter, the town will debut a snow emergency hotline, available to residents anytime a snow emergency is declared and continuing during active snow removal operations.
According to Betsy Arnett, the town’s public information officer, the hotline is in response to the greater movement in Town Hall to find efficiencies. With a significant change in town leadership within the past year or so, including a handful of new faces in the Town Manager’s Office alone, Arnett said this idea is one that was brainstormed to make things run more smoothly during snow emergencies.
The threshold for declaring a snow emergency generally is about 2 inches, Arnett said, but Streets Superintendent O.J. Jackson is the one to make the recommendation to Town Manager Kaj Dentler on when such an emergency should be activated.
Town staff answering the calls will be able to use a cloud-based GIS system to record the data reported by residents calling in. This allows the system to be an important tool for analysis after the storm, Arnett said, as staff members can be see areas that were problematic during snow removal operations.
The GIS system has been used by town staff for other endeavors in the past, meaning the new hotline comes at zero cost to the town.
“There was no cost to implement it,” Fields said.