Snow blankets county
by James Phillips
Jan 18, 2013 | 3308 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Snow had started to cover the historical marker near the Walker County Courthouse in downtown Jasper by mid-morning Thursday. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Snow had started to cover the historical marker near the Walker County Courthouse in downtown Jasper by mid-morning Thursday. – Photo by: James Phillips.
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Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe reported numerous accidents across the city caused by heavy snow and icy conditions Thursday. County officials also said there were numerous traffic accidents caused by the wintry weather. – Photo by: James Phillips.
Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe reported numerous accidents across the city caused by heavy snow and icy conditions Thursday. County officials also said there were numerous traffic accidents caused by the wintry weather. – Photo by: James Phillips.
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A trio of Walker High School students spent the afternoon Thursday building a near six-foot snowman just off U.S. 118 near the entrance to Forest Park subdivision. Several motorists honked their horns as, from left, Josh Goss, 17, Reed Harrison, 18, and Josh Doss, 17, painstakingly built the snowman in about 90 minutes. They said they built a similar snowman after the last significant snowfall in January 2011 and it stood for five days. – Photo by: Jack McNeely.
A trio of Walker High School students spent the afternoon Thursday building a near six-foot snowman just off U.S. 118 near the entrance to Forest Park subdivision. Several motorists honked their horns as, from left, Josh Goss, 17, Reed Harrison, 18, and Josh Doss, 17, painstakingly built the snowman in about 90 minutes. They said they built a similar snowman after the last significant snowfall in January 2011 and it stood for five days. – Photo by: Jack McNeely.
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Heavy snow that fell on Walker County Thursday caused traffic conditions to deteriorate across the county, leading to an unknown number of accidents and forcing schools to release students early.

Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said deputies from his office had worked accidents throughout the day.

“I’m not sure exactly how many wrecks we’ve been to, but I would guess it was around 20 at this point,” he said Thursday afternoon. “The roads are pretty slick out there. We need people to be as careful as they can when roads are like that.”

Tirey said that despite the number of accidents there had been no serious injuries reported.

“It’s mostly just been people sliding off the road,” he said.

Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe, who was directing traffic at Walker High School, said there had been more than 30 vehicle accidents in Jasper as of early Thursday afternoon.

Officials with the Walker County Emergency Management Agency said travel issues were reported in almost every part of the county.

In east Walker County, all roads were closed for a short time, but they were reopened around 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The snowfall led to the closing of several area businesses as well as the Walker County Courthouse where members of the Walker County Commission had to cut short a scheduled work session.

“It was probably a good thing that we were all together, because our meeting room turned into more of an emergency operations center,” Commission Chairman Billy Luster said.

“Road conditions became pretty treacherous fairly quickly so we started communicating with the different districts from the courthouse,” he added.

Luster said the work session will be rescheduled for a later date.

Schools across the county were also affected by the winter weather. Walker County Schools delayed the start of classes until 10 a.m. Thursday, but the heavy snowfall forced school board officials to close schools by noon.

“We were relying on what the television folks were telling us, and they kind of missed it this time,” said Superintendent Jason Adkins, who was in Montgomery for training Thursday.

Adkins said Walker County Schools would delay the start of classes again today until 10 a.m.

“Depending on what happens with road conditions, we may cancel school altogether for Friday,” he said. “We will stay in contact with our parents to let them know something as soon as we possibly can.”

Jasper City Schools Superintendent Robert Sparkman said classes were not dismissed in the city Thursday, but parents were allowed to pick up their children early. There were only a few students remaining at each of the city’s schools by 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We told parents to take their time and not be in a hurry to pick the students up,” he said. “We had them at school in a safe place. We were feeding them and keeping them warm.”

Sparkman said buses ran at 9 a.m. and classes started at 10 a.m. Thursday.

“By the time it was evident that we were going to have a large amount of snowfall, our buses were already mostly finished with their routes,” Sparkman said. “The safest thing to do was to bring those children to their schools. We didn’t want to send them right back out after they got here, so that’s why we allowed parents to come one at a time and pick up their children. We did not run our buses this afternoon.”

Jasper City Schools have also decided to start their bus routes at 9 a.m. today and classes are set to begin at 10 a.m.

While snow had stopped falling in Walker County by Thursday afternoon, most areas of the county had reported having as much as three inches of snow accumulation.

Temperatures rose to the low 40s by 4 p.m., but they were expected to drop below freezing through the early morning hours of today.

“We are going to have to keep our eye on things,” Luster said. “We’re asking people to please not be on the roads unless you have to be. We don’t know what the freezing temperatures might do overnight.”