“I am ready for spring,” said Brad King, one of several shoppers at the Country Mart store in Farmington Wednesday afternoon, buying a package of meat for dinner.
You could hear that refrain almost anywhere you went in the Parkland Wednesday as people dealt with yet another wave of winter weather slicking up roads, tallying up snow days and fouling up plans large and small.
“The grandkids love it,” said Derek Jones, restocking the meat shelves at Country Mart. “They’re not going to love it May and June when they’re still going to school. That’s when they’re going to be bored.”
Donna Wilson a few aisles over was picking out a few necessities. Coffee creamer and soda.
“I am so tired of the weather,” she said. “My husband’s a construction worker, so of course, when the weather’s bad like this there’s no work.”
“It’s the kids being out of school that wears me out,” said Phoebe Dunlap. “They were back I think one day and then right back out again. It’s like they’ve been on vacation since Christmas.”
Her 17 year old in particular is tired of the snow, Dunlap said. “She can’t go see her friends right now.”
It was a day Country Mart’s store manager Mike Brown said was busier than usual for a snow day — but not busier than a usual busy day.
“Our really busy day was before the ice storm,” Brown said. “We had seven lanes going then. Today we only had five lanes going. That’s about usual for any busy day. It is a bit busier than usual today for a snow day, though.”
Wednesday’s snow snap took some by surprise.
“I went out to warm up the vehicle, since I take the kids to school,” said Bill Tacker. He and a friend Steve Menees were buying a few things for dinner. “I looked around and went back in and told my wife we’d better look at the TV, there might not be any school.”
Sure enough. No school. Even Mineral Area College called off classes for the day, although they did tough it out until 11 a.m.
Tacker added his voice to the tired of snow and cold refrain. “I lived in Florida for 25 years!” he exclaimed. “Yes, I am very tired of this.”
Not everyone appeared tired of the snow just yet. Down the road a ways at the Walmart Supercenter, a young man in a snow plow was building snow castles on the parking lot. Or maybe they were just miniature snow mountains. Shoppers came and went from the parking lot as he worked cheerfully.
Nearby Don Johnson loaded groceries in the back of a Rogue. He had driven to Farmington from Fredericktown for the shopping trip, and was unabashed about his excitement for the snow.
“I’m from Texas, they don’t get any snow there,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve seen so much snow in a long time. I love it!”
Across town, at the First Wok, a Chinese diner, store owner Jeff Lin readily agreed that he was ready for spring — even though snow typically does bring him more business.
That’s why he doesn’t generally close due to weather. Even in the last ice storm, when Farmington’s downtown looked dark as a ghost town with nothing open, his store window flashed a beckoning bright red Open sign.
“We’re normally hanging over here, as long as we have power and gas,” he said.
Few were inside the restaurant that awful night, but his phone was ringing steadily with deliveries. And Wednesday was no different.
“Normally we do get a lot of deliveries when the weather is bad, people just don’t want to get out,” Lin said.
He had a driver call in unable to get around on the snow Wednesday, so he was taking care of the deliveries himself.
“I have a four wheel drive, so if I get stuck, I can get out easier,” Lin said.
The snow favorites seem to be sweet and sour chicken, crab rangoons, General Tso’s chicken.
“Today was a lot easier to get around than Tuesday,” Lin said. “There’s more traffic today, but Tuesday was more slippery.”
Lin said they had about 20 deliveries during the lunch rush Wednesday. He took a moment to talk to the Daily Journal when things slowed down a bit, but moments later the phone was already ringing again. Lin answered the phone and then said, “Yes, what is your address?”
Make that 21 deliveries.
A stone’s throw away in the same downtown area, the snow was having a completely different effect at the 12 West Restaurant.
“Business is always bad whenever the weather is bad,” said Kirk Wishon, general manager. They usually have a dining room full for a fairly robust lunch crowd, but Wednesday there were just five tables.
Days like that have been rough on the restaurant business, particularly since the recession has already had a dampening effect on many businesses.
“The last two months have been up over last year, but it would be so much better if the weather wasn’t so bad,” Wishon said. “If the weather forecasters would get it right more than 10 percent of the time that would help, too. It was supposed to be flurries today, but it was more like 3 inches. Just 30 minutes ago, the weather forecast was chance of snow 50 percent!” He looked out the big front windows, where a few snow-covered vehicles were parked in front of the restaurant. “I would say it’s pretty much 100 percent.”
As the sun began to go down on another snow day in the Parkland some of the regulars for the night crowd were beginning to come in off the street. One gentleman threw his keys down on the bar.
“I am so tired of the weather,” he said. “I’m ready for spring.”
Renee can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext 117 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Crews out early Wednesday trying to keep roadsclear
By RENEE JEAN / Daily Journal Assistant Managing Editor
One place they are really tired of the snow is at the CountyBarn.
“We’re moving to Florida,” joked Wendell Jarvis, County Roadsupervisor Wednesday afternoon.
He had crews out early in the morning putting down salt and chatmix. “At first there wasn’t enough snow to plow,” he explained, “sowe started off hitting hills, curbs and bridges with chat and saltmix.”
It wasn’t long, though, before there was plenty of snow to plowand the crews starting hitting the whole road, and chipping alongbehind with salt and chat to keep the snow that fell after theypassed through slushy as long as possible.
Progress on the routes was slow because the snow was relativelylight. The plow trucks can’t go more than about 25 miles an hour insuch conditions because it kicks up a cloud of snow and then thedrivers can’t see.
“It’s probably going to take about 12 hours for them to hit theroutes one time through,” Jarvis said.
The fleet remains in good repair, despite having been putthrough severe paces by the recent weather conditions. “They areall trucking good,” Jarvis said. “We only had one problem with onetruck. Had to bring it in and change the hydraulic motor on thechipper.”
The chipper sits in the back of the dump truck bed and spreadsthe salt and chat mix.
So far no trucks have landed in the ditch, Jarvis said, andthere haven’t been too many trouble spots. “In Tuesday’s storm, wehad to get in to a radio tower up on Sim’s Mountain,” Jarvis said.”That’s a hard one to get up.”
Jarvis said the county still has plenty of salt and chatmaterials on hand, despite the unusual amounts they’ve had to useto fight the bad weather so far. Associate Commissioner BretBurgess had reported Tuesday that the county has already used$45,000 in materials and spent $55,000 in labor for snow removalwith six weeks of winter left to go. The county has budgeted about$130,000 for snow removal.
Last winter the county spent more like $16,000 in salt andmaterials and $13,800 in additional labor costs.
Burgess said the county is still in good shape with its budget,in spite of the unexpected expenditures. It may affect how muchrepaving can be done later in the year, but major projects such asthe Vo Tech Road Bridge and the Union Pacific Bridge will goforward regardless. Those are being funded with state and federalmoney, as well as matching money that has already been set asidefor the project.
“We are looking forward to a warming trend,” Burgess said.