02/01/10 — We're melting ...

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We're melting ...

By Staff Reports
Published in News on February 1, 2010 1:46 PM

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Tyler Wallace, Anthony Simmon and Ryan Mitchell try to master the steep hill near the overpass on Spence Avenue Sunday afternoon. The three managed to stay on the board until they reached the bottom of the hill.

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Alissa Price rides an inner tube being pulled by her father, Vince Price, on N.C. 111 South near the Wayne/Duplin county line. Southern Wayne County received mostly sleet and freezing rain from the Saturday storm.

With some roads in Wayne County still covered by icy patches, most public offices remained closed today.

Some roads in northern Wayne County, particularly N.C. 111, 581 and 222, were passable but still covered with ice this morning, while major roads in the southern end were fairly clear, but still icy in some spots.

Also, some of the exit ramps, while passable, still needed additional work before they could be termed "safe," said Luther Thompson, the county maintenance supervisor for the state Department of Transportation.

County and court offices and the public schools were closed today, and a number of businesses also chose not to open.

American Red Cross officials had been on standby to open a shelter in the county, but were not called on to do so. Nor were there calls for assistance, officials said.

Thompson said part of the problem in northern Wayne is that the area received more of the frozen mixture over the weekend and that it had been more compacted.

U.S. 70 and 117 and I-795 were in good shape, he said, but with some icy spots at turns and crossovers.

Thompson said DOT work crews had focused their efforts prior to the storm on the four-lane highways. He said that 800 tons of salt, including the salt included in the brine spray, had been applied to the county's roads.

He said crews would be working to clear the northern roads today, but that the work probably would not be completed until Tuesday. He said he hopes the cleanup on southern roads will be completed today.

The exit ramps will be worked on today as well, he said.

Overall, about 30 percent of the county's secondary roads are clear, Thompson said.

Wayne County government offices, including the county landfill and all convenience centers, were closed today. For more information, people may call 731-1150 for up-to-date operation information for Wayne County government or visit www.waynegov.com.

County Manager Lee Smith said he hopes the county offices will be able to operate on a normal schedule Tuesday. However, the decision had not been reached prior to press time today.

Goldsboro city offices opened two hours late this morning, and tonight's scheduled City Council meeting will be held as scheduled.

City Manager Joe Huffman said the main streets in the city appear in good shape and that expected warmer temperatures today should help clear them even more. But some side streets were still icy, as were many parking lots.

All county library branches remained closed as did the GATEWAY bus system. The GATEWAY office opened at 9:30 a.m. for calls only.

The Wayne County Reads kickoff event set for today at Wayne Community College was canceled. The new date for the presentation on "Fahrenheit 451" will be announced as soon as speaker John Kessel can be rescheduled.

All court offices were closed, too. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold Jones said he had spoken with Chief District Court Judge David Brantley, District Attorney Branny Vickory, Clerk of Court Pam Minshew and Smith.

"Out of an abundance of caution for our citizens, Wayne County Superior and District Court were closed today," Jones said.

The judge said he plans to hold court on Tuesday. Monday's cases will be moved to Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in courtroom No. 5. Tuesday and Wednesday court will be held as scheduled.

The Wayne County Public Schools canceled classes today for students. The system's central office opened at 10 a.m. and employees were given the following options:

* Report to work up to two hours later than normal depending upon road and weather conditions and time workplace is open

* Take an annual leave day

* Take leave without pay

* Take personal leave (applies to licensed personnel only).

No decision has been made whether classes will resume on Tuesday, or if they will operate under a later start time.

"We will continue to monitor the roads throughout the day," said Ken Derksen, public information officer for the schools. "There are a lot of secondary roads, and the main thing is seeing how the weather is today and just continue staying in contact with emergency services."

In Mount Olive, side streets were still icy this morning, but the major streets are in fair condition, police Chief Ralph Schroeder said.

"They're not too bad. (U.S.) 117's good. Breazeale Avenue, most of your streets, are pretty good," he said.

The icy conditions caused an increase in the usual number of car accidents in the town, the chief said.

"We've had a few accidents this weekend, starting with Friday, but we've had a little bit more than normal," he said.

And the excitement of snow and ice caused confusion for some residents who are unused to wintery weather. The police department did respond to some weather-related calls that had nothing to do with vehicle accidents, Schroeder reported.

"We had one man who thought he had locked his keys in his car, and his doors were frozen," he said.

However, it was a quiet weekend for the Mount Olive Fire Department. Fire Chief Steve Martin responded to a few fire alarms, but firefighters did not answer any serious or weather-related calls. The Mount Olive-based rescue squad also did not respond to any weather-related emergencies, a county official said.

It was also slow in the towns of Fremont and Pikeville over the weekend.

"Thank goodness it was nice and quiet over the last two or three days. We haven't even had any accidents," said Pikeville police Chief Pascall Tucker. "People are scooting around, but they're very, very careful."

Both Tucker and Fremont police Chief R.K. Rawlings advised people to continue staying off the roads even through today.

"Unless they have to be out, just stay at home. Put another log on the fire," Rawlings said. "If you have to go out, decrease your speed and once you go into a skid on the ice, turn into the direction of the skid and ride it out."

Wayne Memorial Hospital didn't suffer any staffing shortages over the weekend, spokesperson Amy Cain said. Many on staff opted to spend the night at the hospital in order to ensure they would get to work on time.

"We had lots of folks who volunteered to spend the night here so they wouldn't have to drive back and forth," Ms. Cain said. "At one point, we had as many as 43 people who actually spent the night so there wouldn't be a staffing shortage."

Doctors, nurses and other staff slept on cots, in chairs or in unused rooms under renovation Friday and Saturday nights.

Ms. Cain added that the hospital didn't have a lot of weather-related admissions, but had 148 visits. The weather-related visits consisted mostly of car accident injuries, chest pain complaints and falls on the ice.