Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 26 February 2013 11:27
Residents and towns across Marion County dug themselves out of the first snowstorm of the season last week.
Snow began falling Wednesday and picked up intensity through the night and into the early morning hours. Estimates ranged from 8 to 12 inches.
It was the largest snowfall since mid-February 2011, when around 20 inches blanketed the area.
County school districts canceled classes Thursday, and many community activities were canceled or postponed.
Some melting occurred under sunny skies over the weekend—just in time for predictions of a second significant snowstorm for this week. Snow did begin falling late Monday morning; forecasters were predicting up to 12 more inches, but with winds up to 50 to 60 mph.
Last week’s storm hit its stride around 4 a.m. The later than usual arrival prompted more citizen complaints than usual about snow removal, according to City Administrator Larry Paine.
“Quite often we have a storm that starts a lot more toward midnight, and by 4 o’clock in the morning the majority of everything has fallen,” he said. “Then, we get the guys out and they’re able to get a good portion of the critical streets addressed before sunrise, when people start driving around.
“That was probably one of the biggest problems we had this time,” he added. “With it being later in the early morning, we were not clearing the streets that normally we would have cleared.”
Paine said city crews worked throughout the day both Thursday and Friday to clear the streets. He said he didn’t know how many truckloads were hauled away, “but it was a lot.”
Paine said residents did a good job of staying off city streets Wednesday night, but some paid the price for being curious the following morning.
“We had a number of people in town who did not have the good sense to pay attention (to conditions),” he said. “They went out and started driving around and got themselves stuck—for not doing anything else but looking around.”
Paine said city crews assisted more than a dozen motorists whose cars couldn’t push through the wet, dense snow.
As with every major weather event, city crews from all departments were involved in snow removal.
“Even our meter reader gets involved in working on that stuff,” Paine said. “It was an all-hands sort of thing.”
The majority of stores were closed in Hillsboro Thursday, but at least one small business benefited from the storm.
The teenage children of the Richard and Joni Calam family have an informal contract with nearly a dozen businesses in Hillsboro to clear snow from doorways and sidewalks.
With their oldest son, Douglas, having graduated from high school, the business usually is managed by son Austin and daughter Abigail.
But with Austin in class and Abigail under the weather Thursday morning, father Richard hired about a half-dozen Tabor College students for about an hour and a half to help him with the initial work of clearing doorways and cutting a path to the street.
“We got to it a little later than businesses usually like to have it cleared,” Richard said.
Once his class was over, Austin jumped in. He and his father moved snow for about five or six hours.
“It’s been a good little business,” Richard said. “It hasn’t always been easy to manage because the snowstorms aren’t real consistent.”