OHIO VALLEY — Winter Storm Jonas shared Ohio Valley’s first major taste of winter misfortune over the weekend with nearly a foot of snow dropping in Mason, Meigs and Gallia counties.
According to the National Weather Service, roughly 11.5 inches of snow fell in Point Pleasant, W.Va., 10 inches fell in Rio Grande and 9.5 inches fell in Meigs County near Dyesville. The lock master at the Racine Locks and Dam reported 10 inches of snow Sunday morning.
According to Gallia County Engineer Brett Boothe, about noon Friday, Gallia County trucks started plowing county roads. The trucks focused on plowing hard-road surfaces. Saturday, workers started early after working late Friday night. Hard surface roads were plowed out and a contractor signed with the engineer’s office was assigned to help run a grader over county gravel roads. Most gravel roads were graded Saturday.
Trucks started treating roads afterwards. Boothe said by Sunday afternoon everything had been plowed again and treated. On roads like Jackson Pike, the engineer’s office treats it with straight salt. On other county roads, trucks will use four tons of cinder to one ton of salt. On chip and seal roads, trucks use straight cinders.
When asked what cinders are, Boothe replied it was a form of ash. According to him, when sunlight shines on cinders, the ash collects more heat, much like a black T-shirt in the summer, and this quickens the melting process.
Boothe said Gallia County will use roughly 1,000 tons of salt in an average winter and around 8,000 to 10,000 tons of cinder.
Gallia County has roughly 450 miles of county road to plow and treat and 360 miles of township road, according to its engineer. Around 14 trucks ran 14 plowing routes with four graders skimming gravel roads and one wrecker to pull county vehicles out of poor road conditions. Boothe said workers ran roughly 16- to 18-hour shifts while aiming for eight hours of rest between tasks.
“We were lucky that this was a dry snow,” Boothe said. “If we had a wet snow, it would not have been as easy to shovel out a driveway. When you have a wet snow, if you had a lot of inches, it would be really hard on our trucks — even these big trucks — to push that snow. When you push snow that heavy, wet snow, you have trucks that will get overheated and you’ll have to stop. Wet snow also might have brought trees and power lines down and made it almost impossible to plow roads out and treat them. We’d still be fighting that out (Monday).”
According to Meigs County Board of Commissioners president Randy Smith, everyone worked together during the snow storm as a team, and should be commended for their efforts. He said he speaks for everyone when he says that it takes a team and Meigs has the best one around.
“We can’t say enough about County Engineer Gene Triplett and his staff at the County Highway Department, the township trustees and their staff, and the staff at the county ODOT garage. Everyone was very prepared and took care of our highways and roadways quickly.” Smith said.
“I’ve checked the county out all day and they’ve just done amazing work. Thanks to Robbie Jacks and the best EMS workers in the state for their preparedness and dedication to our citizens. Thanks to Jamie Jones our new EMA director for keeping us informed about the storm’s status and the status of warming stations; Sheriff Keith Wood for keeping us updated with the emergency levels; Assistant Dog Warden Dee Cummins for taking care of the shelter during the storm; and maintenance worker Shannon Spaun for seeing to it that the county lots are ready for business to be open tomorrow. It takes a team and we have the best one around.”
Jacks, director of Meigs County EMS/911, emphasized that all agencies, including firefighters and township trustees, worked extremely hard to clear roadways.
“All of the emergency services worked well together, and we had a plan, we stuck to the plan and it went really well. And for us, personally, we had a four-wheel-drive vehicle and we put an EMT in it to get to the places Friday and Saturday,” he said. “We’re back to our regular duties now. Overall, it was fairly calm, although we had a few crashes due to weather, but nobody was seriously injured so it was pretty good.”