Fall was unseasonably warm, and I was nearly spoiled with the mild weather of December. In fact, I played more rounds of golf at Eberhart-Petro last December (three to be exact) than any December prior, given my strict 50-degree rule! We also enjoyed outdoor family activities around the Princess City including skating, bumper cars and even curling downtown at Ironworks Plaza. If you have never experienced curling, I highly recommend it! Alas, it wasn’t meant to last, winter always comes – and boy did it! Our many departments here at the City were not fooled by the warm start to winter. Each department was busy preparing for the worst that winter can bring while we were out enjoying the rare gift of a mild December. Perhaps, I forgot to “knock on Wood.” As I write this letter mid-January, we have endured 16 straight days of nearly everything Mother Nature can throw at us, including rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, ice, wind, and bitter cold, often all in the same day! I am truly appreciative of all the hard work our departments have done preparing and especially thankful for their quick responses to each wintry condition.
Winter brings unique challenges in providing the services you depend on. Obviously, weather impacts how we travel. When we get lots of snow, it’s all hands-on deck in our response. Our Sewer and Water departments join the Central Services/Street Department to clear roads, cul-de-sacs, sidewalks, parking lots and the Riverwalk so we can enjoy life here in the Princess City. I believe this was the best all-around response to the mixed bag of winter weather I have seen in my 14 years on the job. Kudos to our staff – I’m proud of them! They did an outstanding job keeping our streets plowed and all critical services operational and uninterrupted. Other communities experiencing similar circumstances weren’t as fortunate. Thank you again to these departments for their efforts in keeping our citizens safe.
Inclement weather also brings risk to life. Thankfully, we have well prepared Fire and Police departments that stand ready to answer the call – any call. Not only does this hold true for all our citizens, but even our four-legged citizens! The Mishawaka Fire Department was called upon not once, but twice in consecutive days to rescue dogs that decided to take the polar bear plunge into the frigid, icy waters of the St. Joseph River. Mishawaka crews were dispatched to the area of Wilson Blvd. and Calhoun Street for a canine through the ice. Rescue 1 arrived on the scene and found bystanders trying to rescue the dog. Shortly after, Engine 2 personnel arrived and made their way down the steep riverbank. One firefighter donned an ice rescue suit and made his way down shortly behind the initial crew. He made entry into the partially frozen river on a safety line and was able rescue the canine from river. At the top of the riverbank, they were met by the crew of Medic 1 who was able to warm the dog in the ambulance while waiting for the Humane Society to arrive. The dog was successfully warmed up and turned over to the Humane Society for medical care and to locate the owner.
The second incident was similar to the first and in nearly the same location. Crews were again able to quickly respond and rescue the pooch, warm him up and get him home with his owners!
Not to be outdone, even the Mishawaka Sewer Department got in on a dog rescue of their own! As one of our Sewer Department staff members was performing routine plowing duty, ever vigilant, he noticed the head of a little dog sticking out of a snowbank near the intersection of Grape and Catalpa. Our crew stopped and pulled a little Shih Tzu out who was stuck in the snow. Turns out, this girl was an older dog who is blind and was covered with ice balls stuck to her fur. The gentlemen freed her of the ice balls and noticed she had no collar. The crew brought her back to the shop to see what to do. A local animal shelter was called, and they discovered she had a chip. The dog’s heart-broken owners were identified, called and “Bella” was returned without issue.
There are many blessings associated with living in the Princess City – land of family, friends and good neighbors. We always say it’s a great place to live, work and raise a family. Turns out, it’s also a great place for pets too! I am always proud of the services rendered by my coworkers in our many departments throughout the year. But it is perhaps the midst of winter I am most grateful for reliable, lifegiving…and lifesaving services provided by my colleagues here at the City of Mishawaka.