It was hot the last Thursday in August, and as residents walked their dogs in the Wayside Road area of Portland, they were surprised by what they saw.

A Portland Public Works plow truck came rumbling by, full blades out, the familiar thundering sound a plow truck makes when snow is pushed during a winter storm.

But there was only green grass and pavement, and no snowbanks.

“I wanted to take a picture so when I told people what I saw they wouldn’t think I was drinking,” one resident mused. On the back of the truck was the explanation: a “training” sign.

Lewiston Public Works operators also take plows out before the snow falls, but not until around Halloween, said Director Dave Jones. “We have dry runs around October where they go out and hook up the trucks and plow gear.” Those dry runs ensure that everything is working. It gets drivers familiar with routes.

Usually Portland does the same, but this year the city has a high turnover of drivers, Portland Public Works Director Christopher Branch said Tuesday.


Typically four or five of them leave. This year Branch had to replace 14 or 15 workers who left.

A higher number of new operators means earlier training is needed. “All these new people need to go through training. Normally we do that in October or November. It’s unusual for us to be out this early,” Branch said.

Driving a plow truck when there’s no snow helps operators “get a sense of the wing and the plow. It may teach them how to do turns and round corners,” Branch said. Operators need a good sense of awareness of the big trucks before clearing snow during winter storms, he added.

Snowplow training involves one new hire driving with an experienced operator, Branch said.

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