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Posted: February 12, 2014 8:45 p.m.

No longer responding to some calls

County to respond to road calls only in emergencies

Newton County officials have decided the ice buildup on the roads is too much to risk the safety of its employees.

The public works department issued a statement on the Covington-Newton County 911 Facebook page that, “unless life or property is at risk, public works will not respond to calls. Public works will support Fire, EMS and NCSO to insure roads are passable for emergency vehicles and only in the event of critical emergencies.”

The county was responding to calls concerning iced roads throughout the Wednesday, and sending crews in response. However, at about 6 p.m. things took a turn as temperatures dropped, making the slush that had developed on the roadways impassible ice.

 “Things are escalating rather rapidly right now,” said Jody Nolan, Newton County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director. “All of this is going to turn to ice. We encourage everyone to stay off the road ways. I think everyone may have gotten a false sense of security today. Nightfall will be beyond what it has been at any point in the storm.”

The county then discussed what Nolan called a “defensive” option of barricading off roads and responding only to emergency situations with spreaders and salt trucks. Officials came up with a list of roads that were not safe and would be closed.

At 6:52 p.m., Green Acres, Lakeview Dr. Puckett Street and newton Factory Bridge Road were shut down. Highway 36 between Henderson mill and lackey Road was very icy, and extreme caution was urged.

Any treatment of roads such as Highway 36 was becoming a moot point, as salt and chemicals used to treat the roads are not effective as the ice thickened and temperature dropped.

 “Once you get beyond an inch of ice calcium chloride is not going to work as a de-icer,” Nolan said. We’re doing an evaluation of the roads we feel are the most dangerous and may put baracades on either end of them.
“Safety of our employees is our No. 1 concern.”

The Newton County Sheriff Office is still responding to confirm trees down, and they will notify the proper authorities to clear roadways such as power companies and public works.

Both Newton County and the city of Covington had been attacking any possible snow by being on the offensive with salt and chemicals throughout the day. However, Nolan said that approach may need to change.

“We’ve addressed as many roads as humanly possible with the equipment we have,” Nolan said. “We’re strongly considering before nightfall going into the defensive mode.”

Any information about road closures will be made available to the public on the Covington-Newton County 911 Facebook page.

Power outages have also yet to be a big problem, with Newton County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Jeff Alexander saying he heard a report of a tree falling on the Access Road.

Covington Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon said there were no major outages in the city, with the exception of a tree falling near Cornish Mountain Church, cutting power to about 12 houses.

“Power outages have been real scattered,” Bouchillon said. “We haven’t had any major outages.”

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