Crews were ready for winter storm

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Late winter wonderland Although local weathermen only predicted a dusting of snow for Barry County this week, local communities were blanketed by a few inches of snow Monday night and Tuesday morning. The surprise winter weather system called for Exeter, Southwest, Wheaton and Shell Knob to cancel classes on Tuesday. Michele Phelps captured the photo above outside her rural Cassville home Tuesday morning. The photos below were taken by Chuck Nickle, of Butterfield.

Preparations proved profitable for the City of Cassville's public works team last week. In part, thanks to work completed by city employees before a winter storm passed through the area, no crashes occurred within the city limits last Thursday.

"Earlier in the year, we prepared our salt and cinder stock pile," said Steve Walensky, public works director. "We actually had some materials left over from last year."

When winter weather is predicted to hit the Barry County area, public works employees take time to pre-treat the main roadways and potentially dangerous intersections within the city.

Chuck Nickle Photography

"This was the first time we got the plows and hit the streets," said Walensky. "We work in conjunction with the police department, because they work around the clock and we do not, we rely on their eyes and ears to call us when we are needed."

Walensky said public works employees hit the streets early last Thursday morning in preparation for the commute to work.

"That turned out to be minor since so many things were closed," said Walensky. "We were out there first thing, before dark, though, and by 7 a.m. we had everything treated. This has been our normal procedure for the last few years."

City staff members begin by ensuring the roadways around the Barry County E-911 Center, the Cassville Police Department, the Barry County Sheriff's Office, the Cassville Fire Protection District, the Cox Ambulance Station and other emergency personnel facilities are clear of snow and ice.

"Then, our next line of attack is to hit all of the high traffic intersections and roadways, concentrating on the hills and areas where we know there is more danger," said Walensky. "Last Thursday, it was hit and miss throughout the rest of the day, so we continued to do touch up.

"We had no reports of any wrecks, and only one citizen called us on retreating a hill, so I believe the strategy we used to attack our roads and surfaces worked out perfectly," said Walensky. "I was very pleased with the response from our staff and the partnership with our police department."

In the days following the winter storm, Walensky took time to tour city streets and make note of areas where more clean-up work should be completed. He also contacted Chris Snider, of Allied Waste, to report that Cassville's city streets were clear and trash pick-up could resume in the city.

Other impacts

The winter weather system, which brought a dusting of snow before a few rounds of sleet and freezing rain, caused classes to be canceled at Cassville and neighboring school districts on Thursday and Friday.

Although Barry Electric Cooperative linemen were prepared for the winter storm, no power outages were reported in Barry County last week.

"We checked with the co-ops around us to see if any of them needed help, and they said they didn't have any outages either," said Bill Shiveley, Barry Electric general manager and chief executive officer. "We have not heard anything from anyone up north, but one of the guys who works here has a friend who lives on the Iowa Missouri border and he said no assistance was needed there.

"We believe the heaviest hit were in a small band across the middle of the state," added Shiveley.

Area electric cooperatives depend on a service headquartered out of Oklahoma that uses a variety of factors to predict where winter storms will drop snow and ice and how much precipitation will impact an area, said Shiveley.

"They put together an ice projection index by looking at the weather service information, and a couple of days before a storm hits an area, they begin projecting where they think the ice accumulation will be," said Shiveley. "They also have predictions regarding how much damage an area will have and the outage times, including predictions of long- or short-term outages.

"We make our preparations from that," continued Shiveley. "If we think we are going to have trouble, we start lining up contractors to stand by if needed and get our right-of-way crews ready. Then we start getting our trucks ready and equipped."

Much of the winter precipitation that fell over Barry County on Thursday melted by mid-day Friday.

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