Tribune staff reports
The Jackson County Highway Garage on the east side of Brownstown is normally a pretty busy place early each weekday as crews prepare to head to projects throughout the county.
The only sound that could be heard Wednesday morning was county highway superintendent Warren Martin changing channels on the television to compare weather forecasts.
“I already sent everyone home and told them to be back here at 2 p.m.,” Martin said.
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That move was made in preparation for a winter storm that could leave heavy snow totals in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky.
The forecasts varied, but Jackson County was predicted to receive from 3 to 6 inches of snow by today, according to the National Weather Service. A winter weather advisory is in effect through 9 a.m. today.
Martin said he decided to send employees home instead of having them sit around and wait.
“We’ll call them in early if we have to,” Martin said.
Doug Gregory, a supervisor with the Seymour Department of Public Works, said Wednesday morning that city crews were ready for another storm.
“We filled all the trucks with salt and are getting them ready as far as maintenance,” Gregory said. “We have two trucks with heavy plows on the front. Those are the ones that handle the thick, wet, snow; and a few more with lighter plows.”
He added, “It’s the low temperatures that hurt us. Those 9-degree days are too cold for salt or brine. Salt works down to something like 11 degrees if it’s sunny, 14 if it’s not, and we’ve had all these cloudy days. We’ve had this prolonged weather, where it snows then stops then snows then stops but never really warms up.”
Martin said two trucks are out of commission, one that was damaged during the last storm and a second that lost an injector.
County highway workers spent the early part of the week preparing the remaining trucks for the latest winter storm.
“We’ve burned through a lot of salt now,” Martin said.
He said the winter had been pretty mild until the last couple of weeks.
Salem Community Schools in neighboring Washington County were closed Wednesday because of the weather forecast, and Bedford North Lawrence schools in Lawrence County dismissed two hours early. Classes were not canceled in Jackson County on Wednesday, but students in Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora were dismissed early.
Grocery stores were busy Tuesday and Wednesday as people stocked up before the storm hit.
“Our stores have been busy all week,” said Mark Belleville, executive director of merchandising for Jay-C Food Stores, which has two locations in Seymour and one in Brownstown. “With advanced warnings of winter weather, many customers shopped early to be prepared.”
Belleville said store employees were working hard to keep shelves stocked and to get customers quickly through checkout lines.
“Bread and milk are big sellers during a snow scare,” he said.
But deliveries were running on schedule, and there were no plans to close stores early Wednesday or open later this morning.
Local residents had mixed reactions to the threat of another winter storm.
Dick Stein of Seymour said he doesn’t like listening to people whine and complain about winter weather while living in Indiana.
“Snow rules,” he said.
Megan White expressed a similar sentiment: “Geez … winter lasts three months, and we’ve only had a couple of weeks of bad weather, … and we do live in Indiana.”
The Seymour resident said snow sometimes can be good because it makes people slow down and be more careful.
“People you encounter seem nicer and more understanding. Some businesses close so you deal with less hustle and bustle,” she said. “You can focus more on catching up on things that you don’t have time to do otherwise.”
Karrie Bevers, also of Seymour, said she doesn’t like having to get out in the snow and worries about family driving to and from work.
“I am not a winter person,” she said. “I like my sunny summer days.”
The best part of winter is being able to stay in and cuddle with her family, watch streaming movies and eat good soup, she said.
Angie Mellencamp of Seymour said the worst part of winter storms is the interruptions in school schedules.
“And then keeping (children) cooped up in the house for days,” she said. “The best (part) is the 20 minutes you can stand being outside building a huge snowman with them.”