Winter is coming: school officials, road crews face long days and tough decisions

A county plow clears snow on D-67 between Beaman and Conrad. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

The simple act of stepping outside has become a hazard as some of the coldest temperatures to ever hit the area are projected in the next few days. As a result, schools are closing yet again, and a local government shutdown—with the exception of the Sheriff’s office and the secondary roads department—is on the horizon in Grundy County.

           

“This is a typical bad storm for us. I don’t know how else to put that,” County Engineer Gary Mauer said. “It hasn’t happened for three or four years, but we’ve been through these types of storms.”

           

Wednesday’s predicted low of 30 degrees below zero would come close to an all-time record, and wind chills are expected to dip as low as 55 below as snow continues to fall. According to Mauer, his crews have been working 13-hour days, and they won’t be running machinery on gravel roads Wednesday due to the freezing conditions. County residents, he added, have been understanding.

           

“We’ve had some minor breakdowns, but the colder it is, the more brittle the steel gets,” he said. “So we’re trying to avoid a major breakdown or catastrophe.”

           

And for local school superintendents, two of whom are in their first year on the job, the weather has thrown a wrench into their plans. Along with county road crews and transportation directors, they’re some of the first to drive out in the morning (as early as 3:00 a.m.) to examine the conditions and determine what to do next. 

 

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