First storm, many wrecks
The streets were slick last week from the area’s first snowstorm. Ask Monty Garrett, Milltown’s town manager.
Garrett, 58, was plowing the streets Thursday morning when the town’s F-800 pickup began sliding and flipped over onto its side.
“It happened too fast for me to be scared,” said Garrett.
Garrett was going east on Hill Street about 2 a.m. when the truck started to slide. He tried to brake but couldn’t because the road was slippery. When Garrett tried to raise the blade that’s attached to the front of the truck, it caught on the ground and caused the vehicle to flip.
Garrett believes he escaped injury because he was wearing his seat belt.
“I’ve heard about drivers who are thrown out of their vehicles … and so I always wear my seat belt,” he said.
The truck’s side mirror was damaged.
The first storm of the winter dumped six to eight inches of snow and some ice here just before noon last Wednesday.
Garrett said the storm’s intensity made it difficult to keep up with clearing the roads.
Some students were sent home about an hour early from school, and all schools were closed Thursday.
“We were hoping we could last it out” and keep the students until the end of the school day Wednesday, said Monty Schneider, superintendent of the North Harrison Community School Corp. But, “We were concerned it was getting worse.
“We seldom send (students) home early in the afternoon” due to the fact that some children may arrive at an empty home, he said.
But with radio communication between bus drivers and the superintendent’s office, calls can be placed to parents to make other arrangements.
“I think our bus drivers did an excellent job” getting students home last Wednesday, said Sam Day, transportation director for the South Harrison Community School Corp. They also were dismissed about an hour earlier than usual.
“Overall, I thought the county did a fine job with the roads,” Day said.
Not everyone agreed.
Cindy Mattingly, clerk-treasurer for New Middletown, said the town intends to file “a formal complaint” against the Harrison County Highway Dept. for failure to plow Main Street.
“They just now touched Main Street,” she said Friday morning. Until then, Daniel McPhillips of New Middletown had been plowing the streets. “They have put our children’s lives at stake.”
Mattingly said the highway department told her the town was responsible for plowing the streets within the town limits.
Steve Miller, the bridge crew foreman for the highway department, said the county has always left it to incorporated towns to clean their own streets. “It’s not like we’re not concerned about kids,” Miller said. “New Middletown is incorporated, and they get riverboat revenue. They are supposed to be self-supporting.”
Miller said if the county assumed responsibility for New Middletown’s streets, then the other incorporated towns, such as Lanesville and Palmyra, would expect the same.
The highway department contacted Harrison County Commissioner J.R. Eckart, who told them to operate as they have in the past, which has been to let the towns clean their own roads.
Miller said he thought the highway crews handled this year’s first storm well. “The guys were out until midnight” on Wednesday, he said, before they were allowed to go home and rest. “Then they were back out at 5 a.m.”
Miller estimated that some areas of the county got about seven inches of snow, with more in the south part of the county than the north. “It was a plowable snow, though,” he said.
A North Harrison employee was injured Thursday morning as he was plowing the middle school parking lot.
Alan Fessel, 43, hit a curb with a snow blade, which caused him to hit the tractor’s steering wheel. He was taken to University of Louisville Hospital for possible internal injuries, but Schneider said Fessel was later released and returned to work a couple of days later.
Harrison County schools were back in session Friday, after a two-hour delay, while Crawford County schools remained closed.
Besides the incidents involving Garrett and Fessel, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. had eight other crash reports related to last week’s storm. All were non-injury reports.