By Ross Markman
If you're thinking about not shoveling the snow from your sidewalk this afternoon, you may want to think again.
It's the law.
According to Dave Peterson, Havre director of public works, a city ordinance says residents are responsible for maintaining their property's sidewalks and that includes shoveling.
"Basically, the ordinance states that people are supposed to keep their sidewalks clean, even if we get only a quarter-inch of snow," Peterson said.
By 10 a.m. today, Havre had accumulated about 5 inches since the weekend.
The snow is expected to taper off today, said Ken Pomeroy of the National Weather Service.
"This is a good snow day," Peterson said. "We haven't had an average snowfall here for a long time. I remember times when I was younger when there was snow. From shoveling, you would have piles three and four feet tall. So this is pretty minor snow from what normal used to be."
Most residents, Peterson said, typically do their part to clear the path. But what if someone decides not to?
The ordinance requiring residents to shovel has never been enforced, Peterson said.
"The liability basically falls on the property owners. It's their responsibility," he said.
Cindy Schubert, an insurance agent at Anderson Schubert Agency in Havre, agreed. If an individual slips on snow or ice on your property, you are liable, she said.
The standard homeowner's policy includes $100,000 for personal liability, Schubert said.
"If a person receives damage at all or bodily injury, you will be responsible," she said. "It's the same as someone tripping on a rock on your property."
Businesses in Havre are also responsible for snow removal.
"All of your businesses take care of everything, because they need to," Peterson said.
Business owners, however, are not permitted to simply push the snow onto the road or on their property where it would hinder traffic, Peterson said.
As for the streets, Peterson said the city will plow when the snow "gets deep enough," but will only do so on city snow routes like Thirteenth Street, Sixteenth Street and Twelfth Avenue.
Havre's two main thoroughfares, First Street and Fifth Avenue, are always plowed by the state.
And what about the U.S. Postal Service, the organization that prides itself on working through rain, sleet and snow?
Havre Postmaster Richard O'Leary said today would be business as normal.
"We understand the conditions out there, and we request and ask people to keep their sidewalks as clean as possible," O'Leary said.