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City and county road crews work overtime to keep roads passable, prevent future flooding.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - The roof of the Lamonte Horney Picnic Pavilion collapsed under the weight of last week's snow. The pavilion was insured, but the county hasn't yet determined its next step to replace the facility.
It's only been a week and a half since the snow started to accumulate, but for many, it seems like much longer. The late winter snows have resulted in school snow days, business closures, and a massive amount of work for local road crews.

Besides the school closures, which extended from Monday through Thursday last week, city and county offices either closed early or didn't open.

"Due to the snow we had, City Hall did close down on Monday the 25th, but was open the next day and the remainder of the week," said Jeff Hurd, director of the Madras Public Works Department. "I believe the county was closed on the 25th, as well as the state offices."

City business was also put on hold "We ended up canceling City Council that was scheduled for the 26th," said Hurd. "We also delayed the spray park bid opening one full week due to weather."

The closing date for bids for the Madras spray park was extended from Feb. 26 to March 5, due to the snow.

"Crews did very well in clearing snow," said Hurd, noting that they started on Sunday, Feb. 24, and got important routes cleared throughout the city.

"Then on Monday, the 25th, the crews started around 3 a.m., and were able to at least hit every road in town by the day's end at 5 p.m. There were a few roads that were missed just due to oversight and we were able to get them on Tuesday, the 26th."

On average, Hurd said that crews worked 16-hour days during the heaviest accumulation, "but with the extra plows that were purchased a few years back, we are able to hit all of town in a long day, whereas before it took 48 hours to clear all of town."

On Saturday, March 2, city crews worked to remove snowpack and ice.

"Our focus has been, since the major snowplowing, respond where needed to clear berms, ice, debris that has fallen in the street," he said. "We have pushed back all the major intersections to allow easier travel and now we are working on clearing storm drains and ice off the road and getting ready for the melt when it comes."

Hurd hopes to have the ice cleared from the streets before the next storm hits this week.

"We are also gathering pallets and will be making up sandbags at the end of the week in preparation for the melt, just in case if it comes fast and we experience street flooding," Hurd added.

At the county, offices were open normal hours every day, except Monday, Feb. 25, when County Administrative Officer Jeff Rasmussen allowed offices with safety concerns to close at noon.

"The county annex building and Community Development (Department) did close at noon on that day," he said.

The biggest issue faced by the county was the collapse of the Lamonte Horney Picnic Pavilion, at Jefferson County Fairgrounds, under the weight of heavy snow. The facility has been used for decades for large gatherings from outside the area, such as the All Rockhound Powwow Club of American and the Good Sams, as well as for fundraisers for local organizations, such as Relay For Life and small concerts.

According to Rasmussen, the pavilion was insured, but the damage has not yet been estimated.

The Jefferson County Fair Board will determine its course of action at its March 13 meeting at 5 p.m., at the Jefferson County Annex.

"At this point, we still have a few hurdles before we know what our best next steps will be," said Brian Crow, manager of the Jefferson County Fair Complex. "The Fair Board and I will no doubt start working on solutions as soon as possible. Right now, with the snow, we can't even start the removal process."

"I am encouraged by the outpouring of support from the community and we will do our best to include them as we look toward the future," he added.

Overall, Rasmussen said, "County operations have slowed a little, due to less people (customers) out and about."

However, that has not been the case for the Jefferson County Public Works Department.

"Our public works staff has spent in excess of 300 additional employee hours fighting the snow this past week," said Matt Powlison, the new director of the Jefferson County Public Works Department.

The weather forecast for the coming week calls for snow turning to ice on Wednesday, followed by partly cloudy, slightly warmer weather, by the end of the week.


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