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[whitespace] City's Sandbag Machine Makes Prevention a Self-Service Affair

Saratoga--A new machine at City Hall, and a sharp eye for a sale, has made it a little easier for residents to prepare for rains this winter.

The city recently acquired a new sand-bagging machine, which allows residents or city staffers to fill five sandbags at once. "It allows an individual to fill sandbags without the help of another person," John Cherbone, acting public works director said.

And that means a 30- or 40-minute job that took two people is reduced to a 15- or 20-minute job that only requires one person.

Best of all, however: it was on sale.

The city purchased the machine for less than $1,000 about three months ago after Cherbone spotted the device for the first time on sale in a trade magazine.

"I thought it would be a really good way to help the public," he said. "And we are a designated sandbag distribution center, so it would help the city as well."

And save money.

The sand-bagger not only makes the job of flood prevention a self-service affair for residents, but, Cherbone said, it frees up a city crew member by turning a two-person job into a one-person operation. In case of bad weather or flooding, that would mean one extra person available for on-site work, while only one person would be needed to prepare sandbags.

The device, Cherbone said, is the epitome of simplicity. With a few shovels of sand put into the machine's hopper, the sandbags are filled. All that's left to do then is remove the bags and tie them closed.

"It's a really simple mechanism when you think about it," he said. "It'll pay for itself in a short time."

According to staffers, public response to the new machine has been positive from the few residents who have needed to use it. With more storms predicted in the coming weeks, however, more residents could find themselves stopping in to use the sand-bagger.

And this year, the process shouldn't be so time-consuming for Saratogans.

"It's a pretty low-tech approach to doing something more efficiently," Cherbone said.
Sarah Lombardo

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