If naming Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplows wasn’t enough fun, Brainerd residents will get the chance to do the same in their city.
Brainerd City Council members agreed Monday, March 1, to let the public name eight pieces of snow removal equipment: four plow trucks, the loader and plower, the loader and snowblower, a road grader and a broom tractor.
Mike O’Day, chair of the council’s safety and public works committee, said Mayor Dave Badeaux brought the idea to him after seeing how successful MnDOT’s recent name-a-snowplow campaign was.
“I thought immediately this was a great idea for our city,” O’Day said during the committee meeting Monday. “We spend millions of dollars on these trucks, and we might as well have a little bit of fun with them when it doesn’t require a lot of work.”
Staff and council members threw out the idea of asking students to join the initiative, perhaps letting each classroom pick a name. They didn’t narrow down exactly how name suggestions will be submitted, but City Engineer Paul Sandy said it would be fun to let community members submit ideas and have city staff or a council subcommittee narrow them down before voting starts.
Sandy said he envisions a survey with pictures of each piece of equipment so residents know exactly what they’re naming. Council member Dave Pristchet said a little bit of information about the equipment might be good, too, to help spark some creativity. Once names are chosen, the city will make personalized stickers for each piece of equipment.
During the regular council that followed Monday, council member Gabe Johnson said he liked the idea so much that it should be expanded to more than just snow removal equipment.
“I think every time we spend more than like $150,000-$200,000 on a piece of equipment, we ought to let the public name it — firetrucks, plow trucks, everything,” Johnson said. “It’s a little bit of fun for a piece of capital equipment that’s going to be around for a number of years. I love this idea.”
But the snowplow initiative will serve as more than just fun, Sandy said. The city will also use it as a campaign to promote safe driving around snow removal equipment. If people get to name the equipment, Sandy said, they may feel a sense of ownership and pay more attention to staying clear of snowplows when they’re on the streets.
Sandy will start working on ways to solicit votes and get information out to the public in the coming weeks, with names taking effect next winter.
MnDOT’s recent campaign to name a snowplow in each of its eight districts ended with more than 24,000 submissions that were whittled down to 50.
Suggestions included “Plow Bunyan,” “Dontcha Snow,” “Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya” and, unsurprisingly, “Plowy McPlowface.” One Brainerd council member jokingly threw out “PlowyMcPlowface Jr.” as a possibility in Brainerd.
Members of the public then chose their favorites — up to eight names — with more than 110,000 votes cast when the survey closed Feb. 26. Officials are now tabulating results.