A plow by any other name …

Allen Brook students, above, stand with “Salty,” the snowplow last Wednesday. The class named the plow as part of a VTrans program. OBSERVER COURTESY PHOTO

Local students bestow new names on VTrans snowplows

Observer staff report

Schoolchildren from around Vermont have bestowed 163 Vermont Agency of Transportation snowplows with quirky, funny and strange names. Last week, the trucks made appearances outside the classrooms that named them. 

Williston Central School was visited by “Powder Pusher,” Allen Brook School by “Salty.”

Students in Karin Ward’s class from Williston Central School, right, get a visit from
”Powder Pusher” — the plow they named — and talk with its driver. 

The inspiration for naming snowplows came first from Scotland, according to Amy Tatko, a spokesperson for the Agency of Transportation. Scots vote in public contests to name snowplows. The trend has caught on in Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, South Dakota, Canada — and now Vermont. 

State officials announced plans for the program in late October. Each school was assigned a snowplow in a maintenance garage close to it and given a blank slate to choose a name. 

“Really, the only guideline was appropriate names only,” Tatko said. 

The list of names features luminaries of various cultural realms, from music (Jennifer Snowpez) to literature (William Scrape-speare) to Star Wars (Snowbegone Kenobi). Other plow names are rather enigmatic: Students at Burlington’s Christ the King School decided to name their plow Carl, while Charleston Elementary School students opted for Dorito.

“There’s just been a lot of excitement and joy,” Tatko said. “Thank-you notes are pouring in from the schools.” 

One underrated aspect of the event, she said, was that it helped connect communities with road maintenance and cleaning workers.

“Now there are kids and teachers and schools all over the state that know the name of the person who drives the plow to maintain and keep safe the roads that they drive,” she said. 

— Peter D’Auria of VTDigger contributed to this report