Questions Raised Over No Delay for Schools
Some parents voiced outrage at Moore County school system's decision not to operate on a two-hour delay today (Wednesday) because of the snow.
The Pilot received several e-mails from parents questioning why the school system elected to operate on a normal schedule when other systems in nearly every surrounding county delayed opening or closed. The O'Neal School, the county's largest private school, was closed as well.
Superintendent Susan Purser said she took full responsibility for the situation, saying the school system always operates with the safety of its students, faculty and staff in mind.
"We missed it, and I take that very seriously and regretfully," she said. "I accept that responsibility. Our school system always tries to look out for the safety of our faculty and staff."
Complicating matters was the late onset of the storm. On Tuesday, it appeared that the county would not receive any significant snowfall, but that changed as the night wore on.
Purser said the school system had better information by being able to scout the roads during daylight hours when another winter storm brought significant snow a couple of weeks ago, making it easier to decide.
Purser said if she knew that the icing would end up being as extensive as it was this time around, the school system would have responded differently.
"Weather is always clear after the fact," she said. "If I had the knowledge I had now, certainly I would have made a different call."
Although the snow didn't quite follow the weatherman's expectations, road crews in the area were prepared for the unexpected.
Most forecasts had the likelihood of snow bounding along Moore County's western and northern borders, with little accumulation forecast for the rest of the county. Instead, one to three inches of snow fell in several areas deeper in the county, including the Vass and Southern Pines areas.
In Southern Pines, Tim Allen, streets and sanitation superintendent for the town, took advantage of his lifelong residency in the area and 28 years working for the city to have his road crews on top of things.
"It (the snow) was predicted north of here," he said. "But anytime they call for precipitation, we prepare for it like a major event. I've lived here long enough to always be prepared for the unexpected."
He said his crews put down salt brine last night and were "ready to roll this morning" to put down salt. He said the salt brine helped a lot with the main arteries in Southern Pines, while reports of several trouble areas, mainly on hilly secondary roads and shady areas, were treated with salt in the morning.
Sarah Foster, county maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said her crews were also ready for the unexpected.
"The forecast was for areas north and west," she said. "We were thinking areas like Robbins and it turned out to be more in areas like Vass."
She had 10 employees out working overnight putting down salt brine on the major U.S. and N.C. roadways and then had crews getting the snow plows in action this morning.
"We were out working doing everything we could do," she said.
The State Highway Patrol was out working "a bunch of minor stuff," said Sgt. Tony McNair about the numerous wrecks throughout the county that troopers responded to during the morning. He pointed out that no serious personal injuries or fatalities were reported.
"It was a lot of sliding off the road with mostly property damage," McNair said. "Nothing serious. It was a typical snow-ice type situation."
Foster said it looked "great right now," but her crews were preparing for the possibility of icy areas Thursday morning, as temperatures are forecast to dip near 20 degrees tonight.
"With the snow melting and the cold temperatures (tonight) we are expecting some icy spots in the morning," she said. "We have crews coming in the morning to handle that."
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