Clayton County officials posted this note, announcing the county government was closing because of the winter storm, on the door of the Board of Commissioners building in Jonesboro Tuesday. Initial plans to reopen government offices Thursday were later scrapped and operations are expected to resume today. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO — Even governments have their limits and fighting Mother Nature may be one of them.
Although the snow from Winter Storm Leon was not expected to arrive until Tuesday afternoon, flakes began to fall on Tara Boulevard at about 10:45 a.m. and roadways were slowly disappearing within three hours.
County and municipal offices closed early as the storm brought everything to a screeching halt as employees were sent home early to get ahead of treacherous conditions.
“Given the continued dangerous and impassable roads still remaining in the county and the likelihood that the conditions will not improve over night, out of an abundance of caution and in an effort not to jeopardize the welfare and safety of our employees, Clayton County Government will remained closed until Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 a.m.,” said Clayton commissioner in a statement issued Wednesday.
As the snow quickly began to accumulate, the county and city governments closed their offices. By 2 p.m., it was virtually impossible to find a government office that was open except for public safety and emergency management offices.
Across Clayton County, there were numerous reports of accidents early Tuesday afternoon, including one that shut down Tara Boulevard, as ice began to form on roads that became too hazardous for vehicles.
“I was in a meeting yesterday in Lovejoy. Almost didn’t make it home,” said Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day in a text message Wednesday.
On Thursday, she said city Councilman Randy Segner and his wife, Julie, got stranded on local roads and had to spend 18 hours in their car.
But, as the snow fell Tuesday, news of one local government after another was closing trickled in
At 3:15 p.m., interim Morrow City Clerk Sylvia Redic sent out an announcement that city council meeting that had been scheduled for Tuesday night was cancelled. The cancellation came three hours after city employees were sent home because of the weather.
Some local governments were optimistic that they could reopen soon. A note on the door at Morrow City Hall said it would reopen at noon Wednesday if the weather permitted it. City officials later decided to keep offices closed throughout Wednesday.
Similarly, Clayton County officials said they would reopen county government offices Thursday morning. They later pushed that back to Friday morning when there was little evidence in improvement on the roads Wednesday.
There were some signs of life Thursday as municipal governments tried to get up an operational again. Jonesboro City Hall remained closed, but Day said the city’s police department reopened its headquarters Thursday at noon and tried to get things going again.
One aspect of Jonesboro business that looked like it was starting to get back on track was municipal court.
“Headed to court in a little while,” said Day in a test message sent just after noon Thursday.
Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt said his city began some operations Thursday, but they were mainly aimed at helping residents recover from the storm.
“If driving is impossible in your neighborhood, we can pull you or we can scrape the ice off your driveway and off the street,” he said.
Oswalt also said residents whose trash wasn’t picked up earlier this week because of the storm should expect the city’s garbage collector, Waste Management, to come out Friday.
But residents may have to wait several more days before everything is completely back to normal.
In Lovejoy, residents went without trash pick-up for three days although the city’s trash service provider, Waste Industries, was expected to resume collections today. However, city officials announced on their website that those customers who are regularly scheduled to have their trash picked up Tuesday through Thursday will have to wait until next week.
“Waste Industries’ is aware that because these customers were missed due to weather this week they will have extra trash out at the curb on their upcoming service day,” said a note on the city’s website. “Waste Industries will fully service these customers, and apologizes for the inconveniences brought on by the unpredictable weather.”