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The Suburbanite
  • We followed 3 workers who could not avoid Tuesday's frigid weather

  • The Repository followed a mail carrier, a farmer and a team of Canton Water Department workers Tuesday to see how they handled the subzero temperatures.
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  • The coldest weather in two decades couldn't keep some area workers off the job Tuesday even as wind chills exceeding minus-30 degrees halted the work of many other professions.
    What's it like working in these frigid conditions?
    The Repository followed a mail carrier, a farmer and a team of Canton Water Department workers Tuesday to see how they handled the subzero temperatures.
    Canton water workers: 'I want to get done so I can get out of this'
    CANTON Chuck Seifer hopped out of his Canton Water Department work truck, slipped a hat over his head, a hood over his mouth and a fleece jacket over his bulky frame.
    "I'm wonderful," he sarcastically shouted over the bustling traffic of Cleveland Avenue at noon Tuesday.
    Water mains busted throughout the city as temperatures stayed at or below freezing. Teams of Canton Water Department workers were sent out into the elements to repair them. Seifer, on the job only two years, said the arctic blast was by far the worst cold he'd ever worked in.
    "I want to get done so I can get out of this," he said after lifting the hood away from his face to speak.
    B.J. Knisely, a construction supervisor, uncovered his bare hands to expose the fingers that had been frostbitten several years ago.
    "Don't have much circulation left in these," said Knisely, as his cheeks turned pink.
    Knisely said that in his 28 years with the department the type of work clothing has improved dramatically, but luxuries like Salamander heaters at the job site are prohibited.
    "They say it's a fire hazard," he scoffed. "But sometimes we actually take wood and start a little bonfire if need be."
    Mail carriers: Plenty of layers are necessary in cold, but there's a big bonus — no dogs around
    CANTON Sarah James steps carefully on snow-dusted sidewalks. Ice sometimes hides beneath.
    Her tennis shoes leave imprints on the otherwise clear snow as she walks from one house to another. The United States Postal Service delivers in all weather, and it was just another day for James, who delivers mail to 425 houses.
    "They check on me," she said about residents on her route. Two left hand warmers, although she already had work-supplied ones in her gloves.
    James was one of the 66 carriers who worked Tuesday to complete nearly seven-hour shifts, said City Carrier Assistant Marissa Yoder.
    As a mail carrier for 17 years and an Army National Guard veteran, James said she is accustomed to cold weather.
    "They've been low, but this has probably been the worst it's ever been," she said.
    James wore a few pairs of thermal clothes under heavy, blue USPS pants and a jacket but said she keeps warm as long as she's moving. She said one benefit of the cold weather, though, is not having to watch for neighborhood dogs.
    Page 2 of 2 - Advice to keep warm
    • Keep moving
    • Dress in layers
    Dairy farmers: The cows don't seem to mind the frigid temperatures
    TUSCARAWAS TWP. John Speicher tends to his dairy cows every morning and evening. That doesn't change when temperatures drop below zero and frost clings to the hair on his cows' noses.
    "Some things you just have to do every day no matter what," he said.
    If he knows a cold spell is coming, Speicher said he tries to do as much as he can in advance. He brought in bales of hay this weekend and made sure the animals had plenty of bedding, water and food. Speicher keeps the cows in barns sheltered from the wind but said they generally produce enough body heat to keep warm.
    "They really don't seem to mind," he said.
    Once the cold hits, frozen manure becomes difficult to clear away and diesel equipment doesn't run as well. Speicher said his feed mixer wagon uses a hydraulic door system that takes longer when the "oil's like glue."
    Still, the 70 or so cows need milked twice a day and fed once a day. So he suits up, wearing a jacket over a brown hooded sweatshirt and an IBA dairy farm supplier beanie. Speicher, who's been farming about 25 years, last recalls working in negative temperatures in the early 90s.
    "You just deal with it," he said.
    At least the ground is frozen solid, he said, so there's no mud.
    Keeping animals warm
    • Provide extra hay for bedding
    • Make sure animals have fresh water
    • Provide dry shelter out of the wind