Snow daze takes county

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Marshall County residents are coping with Sunday night's big snowstorm, like other Middle Tennesseans who stayed home because schools were closed, they couldn't get out anyway, or just common sense.

As a result, many folks just walked around their neighborhoods, enjoyed the sights, made snowmen and, in many respects, just played in the snow that packed well for snowballs, and offered some traction for those who did have to travel.

Oiled-and-chipped country roads were left alone because salt and plows ruin those roads, but road graders and salt trucks cleared county roads, as revealed by an inspection with Roads Superintendent Jerry Williams.

State roads were cleared by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Lewisburg Public Works Director Kenny Ring and his crews worked 12-16 hour days on 107 miles of city streets cleared by 21 men -- five per shift. Skyline Drive, Moonlight Street, White Drive and Hull Avenue were the worst, Ring said. Easy Street "ain't too bad."

Schools Director Roy Dukes suspended classes on Monday and Tuesday. County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett and other countywide officials closed the Courthouse Annex on Monday. The Courthouse gave every appearance of being closed on Monday when Lewisburg City Hall closed at noon.

Police Chief Chuck Forbis measured snow 7-1/2 inches deep in front of police headquarters at Water Street on Monday morning. In Chapel Hill, the snow wasn't as deep -- maybe 5-1/2 to 6 inches deep, Police Chief Jackie King said.

Neither reported traffic crashes; nor did the Marshall County Sheriff's Department. Some vehicles slid off the roads. No injuries were reported.

"Overall, I think we were really lucky. Folks used caution and common sense and stayed home, or called about the best route," Katie Burk, one of the sheriff's communications officers said at about 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Allied Waste "did not put trucks out on Monday due to hazardous conditions," Karen Heath, a customer service operator, said. Collections are a day late this week. Friday's collections will be on Saturday.

"Traffic," Ring said, "is the worst thing" for his men operating trucks, front-end loaders, back hoes and snow plows. They ought to have the right of way, he said.

Out on John Barnes Road, county truck drivers Ernie Calahan and Keith Pigue were frustrated with a 1985 Ford truck with an even older salt spreader. It had to be sent back to the garage, Williams said. Calahan recalled a time a couple of years ago when it broke down and someone had to get him at 1 a.m.

"He was about to have a fit," Williams recalled of Calahan's early morning breakdown.

Then there was Justyn Bean, an eight-year-old Cornersville School student who on Monday morning kept throwing snowballs, or quick-packed lumps of snow, at his grandmother Jeanette Payne who lives in the Delina Community. Didn't bother her. She just laughed. That seemed to motivate him more when he was being photographed.

Sliding down the snow-covered New Lake Dam was Bobby Wayne Lee, 14, son of Becky and Ken Lee, who took a tumble and either entertained or worried his sister, Corie, a 10th-grader at Cornersville School, and brother Jackson Lee, 15. With them were Jack Lowe, 21, of Hobo Shaw Road, and Cassie Lowe.

Don "Mudcat" Metcalf and Randy "Wildman" Gamble were driving road graders that might otherwise be used to smooth a roadbed before paving. The big-wheel machines scraped the snow from the smooth roads.

Those machines can get to the back-country roads, but they "would do more damage than good," Williams said. "The best thing to do is stay in if you don't have an emergency reason to get out."

Marshall County has 460 named roads that total some 542 miles, he said. Nearly two-thirds of them are oil-and-chip roads.

The county had an adequate supply of salt that was spread where it's needed.

At the home of Gail and Dewayne Shaneyfelt on the corner of Yell Road and Cochran Lane, son Ryan, 14, helped make two snow figures. Gail's sister, Beverly Miller LeBlanc of West End Avenue, Lewisburg, said the second snow figure was named "Sally."

"We had 8 inches of snow at the house," Gail Shaneyfelt said.

At Tennessean Truck Stop in Cornersville, Boyd Brothers Trucking Co. driver Leon Bell reported he was there all night, waking up with snow all the way up his truck doors.

"I didn't know it was going to snow this darn bad," Bell said. "I'm stuck here, waiting on my dispatcher to tell me when I can go."

He stayed overnight because of information that Intestate 65 was closed from the Alabama state line to Montgomery and I-20 was closed between Birmingham and Atlanta.

Louis Gibson of Cumberland Furnace, Tenn., was also at the truck stop while traveling home from a motorcycle race in Maplesville, Ala., southwest of Birmingham. His son placed third in the race, but they say they'll remember the trip taking eight hours to travel from Birmingham to the truck stop. It usually takes two hours. They got to the Tennessean just before 11 p.m. Sunday.

"There was a wreck on every bridge," Gibson said. Police were stopping traffic at bridges, and letting four or five vehicles cross at a time.

Daryl Johnson, on his way to Indiana for Bluegrass Transportation said, "I'm just waiting it out." Johnson left Birmingham "before it hit. I've been lucky."

Truckstop owner Jan Van Westerop drove to get employees from their homes so they could work.

One of the waitresses - waiting for her daughter to come get her in a four-wheel drive truck - said she'd been on duty since 3:30 p.m. Sunday because others couldn't get to work. Her shift lasted about 17-1/2 hours.

Jeff Skinner, of Marshall County's Emergency Medical Service, had just come on duty and was finishing breakfast at the truck stop. He said the shift he replaced had not reported any weather-related problems.

Tribune staff writers Karen Hall and Clint Confehr collaborated on this story.