CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The cold weather and first snowflakes around western Massachusetts have some public works departments stepping up efforts to hire plow drivers for the season.
Heading into the winter weather season, communities around western Massachusetts are working to fill snow plow driver openings.
"As of today, we're between 90 and 100," said Springfield DPW Director Chris Cignoli.
Cignoli told Western Mass News the hope to reach their staffing goals earlier rather than later.
"155, 160...we start the process in August and go through a hiring process until basically January 1," Cignoli added.
In order to attract more drivers early, Springfield DPW offers a deal.
"If we can get people signed up before November 1, basically they get an incentive, slightly higher rate," Cignoli explained.
Cignoli said most of the drivers they hire for the winter work in construction and landscaping the rest of the year, so he's not worried about still having openings right now.
At Chicopee DPW, they're trying something new this year by increasing the pay for plow drivers.
"When we re-did our rate structure, we also increased our rates a little bit, which makes us a little bit more competitive with other communities and the state, so with that, we were able to attract more contractors," said Chicopee DPW Superintendent Elizabette Botelho.
Compared to last season, Chicopee is able to hire five more plow drivers and add about a dozen more trucks, but despite these improvements, Botelho told Western Mass News there are still challenges.
"It's kind of difficult competing with private sectors, but we post positions and try to fill them," Botelho added.
Chicopee DPW currently has about 20 openings in their eight departments, five of them being in the entry level of the highway department.
However, despite the open positions, the DPW directors we spoke with said they're ready for the snow whenever it arrives.
"Over the past couple of years, we've had a handful of snow storms in November where we've been a little light in the number of plowers that we've had and it's been fine," Cignoli said.