Weather keeps road crews busy, students home


So much for having a holiday off.

Beginning early Monday morning on Presidents Day and ending late that night, Mother Nature dumped at least 6 inches of snow in Jackson County. That kept crews with the Seymour Department of Public Works and Jackson County Highway Department driving snowplows on city and county roads on what was supposed to be their day off.

Bill Everhart, public works director, said he had two six-man shifts on the road beginning at 4 a.m. Monday.

“There was probably six or eight of our crew in the past 24 hours with only four hours of sleep,” Everhart said Tuesday morning.

Warren Martin, county highway superintendent, said some of his 15 employees worked from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday trying to clear snow from the 738 miles of roads and add salt and sand to some areas.

In both the city and county, crews were back on the roads at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

“Today, they are just mainly looking around for refreeze areas, places where we’ve salted, and it’s melted some and beginning to freeze again,” Everhart said. “Then, they are going back and widening some areas where they just got one strip plowed.”

Martin said along with widening areas that were plowed Monday, his crews spent Tuesday putting salt and sand on intersections, hills, curves and bridges on county roads.

“They are talking subzero weather for the next three or four mornings, so it’s not going to do a great deal,” Martin said.

The sun came out for a short time Tuesday morning, but the single-digit temperatures didn’t help.

The bitter cold is expected to continue the next few days, and that’s not going to allow the salt to work on roads, Everhart said.

Everhart said his crews focus more on pavement temperature than air temperature.

“If we can get some sunshine working today, and the increased traffic versus (Monday), then all of that combined will help keep the pavement temperature warmed up to where we can get some of the snow to melt,” Everhart said.

The drier snow, though, made plowing a little better.

“It’s a lot easier than what it is if you get something that’s wet and it gets compacted,” Everhart said. “Then, you just can’t get it off the roads.”

Martin said there’s a chance of flurries today and again this weekend. But later in the week, there may be a warm-up — it’s supposed to be in the mid-30s.

“As long as we can get sun with a little bit of salt (on the roads), it will melt some,” he said.

Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said between midnight Monday and 11 a.m. Tuesday, officers responded to 12 wrecks.

A couple of the incidents were reported as personal-injury wrecks, but fortunately, Wayman said no one was transported to the hospital.

Wayman said the county highway department plowed the same roads over and over again as snow fell Monday.

“It looks like the highway department has done an outstanding job,” he said. “(Some) roads are still treacherous, and people still need to use caution.”

For school officials, deciding whether to have students and staff venture out in the snow and cold is a tricky call.

Seymour Community Schools Superintendent Rob Hooker said he tries to make the decision as early as possible. On Monday, school was called off before 6 a.m. But for Tuesday, the announcement to cancel school was made late Monday afternoon.

Making the call for today, however, was going to be more difficult. Hooker said most main roads were clear, but secondary roads had yet to be cleared.

“As always, our concern is the areas where trees block sunlight — hills, curves and ditches,” Hooker said. “Also, the temperature forecast has got us all a little nervous about what we could expect the next couple days.”

Monday was supposed to be a makeup day for Seymour students missing school Feb. 5 because of the weather. Hooker said school will now be in session on Good Friday (April 3) and the Monday after Easter (April 6).

He said any school days missed from today on will be made up at the end of the school year.

Monday was a built-in snow day for Brownstown Central, Crothersville and Medora schools. They weren’t in session Tuesday because of the weather.

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