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By Michael Boyd Jr.
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
We are only 24 days into year 2024 and already this region has seen three light snowstorms, plus two days-long rounds of sub-zero temperatures.
Of course, such weather – aka the polar vortex – brings all sorts of interruptions to local lives, schools and businesses, and this time was certainly true.
The city of Ste. Genevieve alone has seen numerous water main breaks since the first onslaught, too many to count to say the least.
“For the past week, we’re averaging two to three breaks per day,” said Steve Wilson, Ste. Genevieve public work manager. “And that’s just the ones the city owns. We do assist the homeowners when they have a break as well. Our crews definitely have been out and very busy in this weather.”
Wilson, who was at the Market Street water main break on Sunday evening during this interview, said the breaks are simply due to the temperatures and the sudden expansion and contraction of those pipes.
Wilson also stated that the city had also been busing salting roads in preparation to the storms as well as clearing the roads afterwards, even in the middle of the night.
“Our guys have been dealing with about an inch of snow each time, plowing and spreading salt or calcium chloride as needed to clear the roads,” Wilson said. “All of our parts and inventory on hand has proven itself worthy as we’ve been able to fix everything on site.”
The extremely-low temperatures and icy conditions also has reeked havoc on the local school schedules, which have held classes only a couple of days during the two rounds of single-digit weather, that being the two days the weather warmed up into the 30s last week.
“Student safety is the No. 1 reason due to the condition and cold temps,” a source with Valle Catholic Schools said when asked about closing schools for a few days.
Ste. Genevieve R-II Schools echoed the same thing. R-II dismissed early on Jan. 12 and had two snow days on Jan. 16 and 17. The school took off for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 15, and also used two AMI (Alternative Methods of Instruction) days this past Friday and Monday, with three more AMI days in the works.
“Our decision-making process for determining whether or not to have school or cancel activities due to inclement weather is based on several considerations, but our first consideration has been, and remains, the safety of our students and staff,” said Dr. Paul Taylor, R-II superintendent. “Our district is the 20th largest geographically out of more than 500 Missouri school districts, which poses some unique challenges. Many of our roads are county roads, and their conditions are a crucial factor in our decision-making. Depending on the forecast and timing of inclement weather, it can be difficult to determine the extent to which our area will be affected. We understand the impact these decisions have on our community, and we strive to use all available information as we continue to focus on student and staff safety.”
And with schools being closed, that meant the sports schedule was interrupted at the same time.
Action somewhat got underway again on Thursday and over the weekend.
It warmed up into the 30s Thursday and Friday afternoon for Ste. Genevieve R-II to hold basketball games, but the temperatures dropped back to 0 once more Friday night and over the weekend.
Several Valle Catholic high schoolers headed east on Wednesday to Washington, D.C., for the annual, national March for Life event, where the nation’s capital received several inches of snow itself but the temperatures were not near as cold.
The latest freezing temperatures did not stop the SEMO Conference wrestling tournament from holding action on Friday and Saturday down in Sikeston.
Temperatures rose into the 20s again on Sunday only for a new wave of icy rain to hit the area Monday morning, causing road conditions to be a problem once again for city crews.
Several churches did hold Sunday services during both sets of 0-degree temperatures, but closed for the rest of their activities during the week. The only exceptions were for funeral services.
Monday’s ice and snowfall closed some businesses downtown as well as businesses along U.S. Highway 61, Missouri Highway 32 and the very hilly and curvy RouteM, to name a few places.
Temperatures are scheduled to be back into the 30s-50s throughout this week, according to the National Weather Service.