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EARLIER: State, county in state of emergency

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Snow, ice pound Shelby, state

By Lisa King

Gov. Steve Beshear has declared Kentucky to be in a state of emergency because of  the winter storm that continues to rage across Shelby County throughout the state.

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Beshear held a press conference to make his announcement and said in a statement that

his declaring the emergency will assure assistance and protection by mobilizing state resources to assist cities and counties, doing everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.

"We are prepared to use every available resource to help Kentuckians make it

through these rough conditions, whatever may come," he  said.

The storm that prompted the governor's action hit Shelby County with a

vengeance Tuesday morning, when residents awoke to find their world covered

by a layer of snow and ice.

And the National Weather Service predicted the arrival of a "significant ice storm" by today for the northern sections of north central and east central Kentucky, with potentially destructive icing, the possibility of further power outages and

extremely hazardous travel.

Slyvia Russell, a secretary at Shelby County Public Schools, said Tuesday

that even though the forecast was dire, it is the practice to assess the

school situation early in the morning. She advises listening to local

broadcast media or visiting  www.schoolsout.com on Wednesday morning to check on the status of school closings.

Schools were closed Monday and Tuesday, and a portion of U.S. 60 was shut down because of  a downed utility pole that cut service to customers in Western Shelby County.

The governor's office reported that much of the commonwealth encrusted in ice and snow today, and some 60,000 Kentuckians were reported without power Tuesday

afternoon, mostly in western Kentucky. Outage reports have come mostly west of Interstate 65 and south of I-64.

  Power outage in West Shelby

Simpsonville Police Chief Scott Chappell said a Kentucky Utilities pole fell across U.S. 60 just east of Simpsonville because of the storm, leaving a portion of the city without power from 2 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.

"About half the town was out from the Citgo station on," he said.

Chappell said crews had managed to clear one lane of wires that come down near Fields

Lane. And though power has been restored to some residents, some KU customers of the western part of the county remained without power into Tuesday evening.

Shelby County was hit with about four inches of snow on Tuesday, followed by

a layer of ice, and Shelby County Roads Supervisor Carl Henry said Tuesday that he and his crew of 16, who have been working 12-hour shifts, were getting ready for another

wave of freezing weather to blow in.

"We have been plowing and salting all night and all day today, and we will

be at it all night tonight, too," he said.

Henry said that the salt put down by his crew, in addition to brine that

they put down last week, has really helped make the roads passable.

"It's not too bad right now with the temperatures up near 25 degrees, but

when it gets down tonight, it's going to be nasty," he said. "But we are

ready and we have a fresh crew coming in at midnight to take over."

Brian Romine, Simpsonville Publics Works Director, said Tuesday that in that

city, except for the situation with the utility pole, the roads, though

nasty, were passable.

"We've been out since 2 o'clock in the morning, and we've already plowed and

salted the city twice," he said "Our salt spreader was malfunctioning last

week, and we just got it fixed -- talk about good timing."

Romine said Tuesday afternoon that he and his fleet of two salt trucks and

plows were preparing to salt the city again. "We're going to keep at it," he said.

Shelbyville Public Works could not be reached for comment, no doubt because its crews were busy with their own salting and plowing schedules, but the combined efforts of city

and county crews have paid off so far, as no serious accidents had been

reported.

Sherry Allen with Shelby County Central Dispatch said Tuesday afternoon that

so far, 17 accidents had occurred during the storm, and all of them were on

the interstate. What's more, none of them were serious, she said.

"No one was killed or badly hurt, so that's amazing."

  Emergency assistance

Gov. Beshear said primary areas of concern are roads, electric power,

heating assistance and shelter. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet road

crews worked through the night and Tuesday to keep main routes at least

passable.

Crews have been hampered by downed trees  and sagging power lines in many areas, especially in the Jackson Purchase and Pennyrile. At one point this morning, plows were out in 105 counties.

Gov. Beshear said he and Transportation Secretary Joe Prather have directed

all Department of Highways district offices to contact local

government leaders to offer assistance and ensure efforts are coordinated.

Charlie Frazee, director of the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency,

said that what state assistance would mean for individual counties would be

such things as getting help from the National Guard in locating emergency

generators in the event of a prolonged county-wide power failure.

Another example would be getting help from the Red Cross in setting up emergency

shelters, or having state road crews come in to assist local crews.

"But mostly, the biggest way they would help would be in reimbursing

individual counties for unexpected expenses brought by the storm, with FEMA

[Federal Emergency Management Agency] funding," Frazee said.

With the National Weather Service's forecast of a continuing ice storm, Frazee said Emergency Management would set up an Emergency Operations Center at Central Dispatch to keep abreast of the situation.

Shelby County Fire Chief Bobby Cowherd said that so far, this storm has not

reached the proportions of the ice storm of 2003, and he hopes it stays that

way.

"Ask me in the morning, and I hope I won't have a different opinion," he

said.