Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TOP STORY >> Wintery weather swoops in again

Leader staff writer

Tuesday’s wintry weather mix of light sleet, light snow and freezing rain turned out to be more of a hindrance than a danger.

Schools let out early Tues-day in most of The Leader’s coverage area as roads became slick. But Pulaski County Special School District decided to stay the full day after transportation officials contacted the National Weather Service which predicted an end to the worst of the weather by11:30 a.m. and mushy ice by the evening.

Lonoke schools closed at 11 a.m. while Beebe waited until 1:30 and Cabot held out until 2:30 p.m. Whether any would be open today was a question that had not been answered at press time. The answer was dependent on the weather.

Eddie Cook, director of operations for the city of Cabot, said street department crews started sanding bridges and overpasses when the sleet started falling and the roads were clear at midday except for Hwy. 5, which was becoming icy.

Jim Greer, head of Beebe’s street department, said the highway department sanded overpasses in town and that all the city streets were passable. They were getting slick at 1 p.m., he said. But the temperature came up a couple of degrees leaving only occasional patches of ice, no solid sheets.

Canceled evening meetings are common during bad winter weather, but at press time the commission that runs Cabot parks was still planning to meet. The commission was criticized late last year for its lackadaisical style and poor meeting attendance and has made a concerted effort to change its image.

On Tuesday, the commission was expected to choose a site for the baseball and water park that the city will build if voters approve an extension of the existing one-cent sales tax. Also on the agenda was the selection of an architect to design the estimated $15 million facility. The commission was expecting representatives from five companies interested in the project to attend the meeting.

Jim Oakley, Jacksonville’s public works director, said his crews were out mid-morning Tuesday spreading a sand and salt mixture on bridges and major intersections. “It warmed up a little after lunch and the sleet and ice turned to rain and washed most of the slush away,” Oakley explained. But then that water turned icy and Oakley had trucks back out at 6 p.m. sanding bridges. He also said that trucks would be out early Wednesday morning before rush hour and would sanding streets through the night.

“The police department keeps us updated on areas getting bad and we make sure we sand them,” Oakley said.

State offices will open two hours late today.