Welcome to Spring! Switzerland County hit with snowstorm

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As most of the country was celebrating the official start of Spring, Switzerland County and other sections of the Midwest found themselves digging out from beneath an unexpected snowstorm.

Forecasters were predicting as much as six inches of snowfall for this year, but as county residents rose on Tuesday morning, they found that the storm wasn’t as bad as it had been predicted.

But it did cause some problems.

Edd Cook, Switzerland County Highway Superintendent, said that the mixture of rain and sleet that proceeded the snow was a headache for highway workers, as the normal procedure of laying down a layer of brine in anticipation of the snow wouldn’t work.

“With the rain, there was no reason to put down the brine because it would have just washed off the roadway and done nothing,” Edd Cook said.

Edd Cook said that highway workers hit the county’s 375-miles of roadways early Tuesday morning, and by the end of the day the county’s 20-man crew had done just about all it could to make the county roads safe for drivers.

“There was no need to get out too early on Monday night and Tuesday morning,” Edd Cook said. “You get to a point where you have to wait until the snow’s either deep enough to plow, or the roads are at a point where you can treat them — or let Mother Nature take care of it.”

Wednesday’s sunny weather was doing a lot to help the melting of the snow that was still left on some county roads, and Edd Cook said that the northern portion of Switzerland County received the hardest hit with the storm.

By Tuesday evening, highway workers had done about all they could, having laid down a mixture of salt and cinders on the roadways — and it was beginning to work.

The snowstorm also forced the Switzerland County School Corporation to call a rare late season snow day on Tuesday. Students also went to school on a two hour delay on Wednesday, allowing the sun to get up for better visibility and more time for the snow to melt off of roadways.

The winter athletic program at the high school was canceled on Tuesday because school was called off; and that program will now be held tonight (Thursday). The program will be held in the gym beginning at 7:30 p.m., and punch and cookies will be served.

The athletic program was adjusted so that the French Club’s “American Idol” program can still be held in the cafeteria beginning at 6 p.m. tonight. That program is open to the public and will feature high school students performing.

No makeup date for the missed day of school has been announced at this time.

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Once the weather breaks, Edd Cook said that a focus of the Switzerland County Highway Department will be to undertake a program of sealing previously paved roads.

“We’re trying to protect the county’s investment,” Edd Cook said of the sealing program. “If you pave roads but don’t seal them, then they begin to deteriorate, and we don’t want that to happen. We’ve got a big investment in the roads that we’ve already paved.”

Edd Cook said that the sealing program should begin in the near future, and that residents will also see more road paving done this summer.

Currently the Switzerland County Council has allocated $1 million for paving this year — and that translates into 30-35 miles of county roadways.