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Winter sticks around

Icy storm shutters businesses, schools

POSTED: February 5, 2014 4:00 a.m.
For the Dawson Community News/

Cohen Gunter, 19 months, throws snowballs at his sister, Gracelyn Gunter, 6, (not pictured) during last week’s winter storm.

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The same winter storm system that crippled the metro Atlanta area last week also shut down many Dawson County businesses, as well as the school system and local governments.

The school district canceled classes a day ahead of systems in surrounding counties.

"I start tracking weather systems days in advance," said Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. "If severe weather is possible, then we start looking at the possibility and have contact with our Dawson County Emergency Services personnel.

"If the weather appears to be impending, then EMS invites me to weather briefings."

The snowstorm began about 11 a.m. on Jan. 28, with a few flurries being reported in the higher elevations around the county. By 1 p.m., the ground was turning white and the roads were being labeled as hazardous by Dawson County EMS.

The snow flurries continued into the night, with parts of the county picking up anywhere from 1.5 to 3 inches of snow.

By Wednesday morning, subfreezing temperatures kept area roads dangerous, with many deemed "hazardous," including Ga. 400 in both directions near Harmony Church Road.

Also described as hazardous were Kilough Church and Lumpkin Campground roads and sections of Hwys. 9, 136, 183.

Wrecks were reported across the county throughout the week. Blue Ridge Overlook had become impassable near War Hill Park Road by Tuesday afternoon.

By Thursday, state Department of Transportation crews had made it to the major corridors, clearing enough ice to make the highways passable.

"According to dispatch, there was a report of 40 motor vehicle crashes during the winter weather," Swafford said. "Fortunately, only two injuries were serious enough to be transported to area hospitals. Both these injuries were not life threatening."

Icy conditions also claimed the life of one man the morning of Jan. 27.

Many area businesses as well as city and county government offices remained closed on Jan. 29 and 30 before reopening by midday Jan. 31.

Schools remained closed for the remainder of the week.

"This year has seen us cancel due to low temperatures and wind chill factors," said Porter. "It was decided that we didn't want students to be standing at the bus stop areas when wind chills were well-below zero degrees.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Porter said no makeup days had been decided on for students.

"In the past the governor has sometimes declared that days don't have to be made up due to emergency situations that impact large parts of the state," he said. "Our situation is a little more complicated due to the fact that our calendar is two student days short of full due to budget.

"Ultimately, we have to determine how much instructional time is needed to adequately prepare our students for future content and courses."


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