Schools in session on slippery roads

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Neihof: ‘If I had it to do over again, I would have canceled school’

By Lisa King

Snowy conditions Tuesday morning caused the cancellation of school sessions in some surrounding counties but not Shelby County Public Schools.

SCPS officials made a decision early that morning to run the elementary school buses on time, and then added a 1-hour delay for middle and high school buses, which run later.

However, Superintendent James Neihof said Tuesday afternoon that in hindsight he would’ve changed that plan.

“I made a mistake this morning,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I would have cancelled school. That’s a decision we make on a routine basis, and sometimes we’re right, and sometimes we’re wrong.”

Neihof said as many as five district employees were out checking roads between 3 and 5 a.m. Tuesday and that travel seemed safe at that time.

“We were in contact with the National Weather Service, and we were told that there would be about a thirty-minute burst between seven and seven-thirty,” he said. “At that time, our buses would have dropped off our first-run [elementary school] students. If that had been right, I think we would have been in better shape.”

Instead of moving up the river, as predicted, the storm came through Shelby County for much longer stay.

Neihof said the district’s bus service truck made about a half-dozen runs, but there were no serious accidents.

“We had a few buses slide, and some were late,” he said. “Safety should always come first, and the best thing I can say is I made a mistake [Tuesday] morning.”

The snowfall and ice that accumulated just before dawn had Shelby County Road Department crews out working as quickly as possible, Shelby County Road Supervisor Carl Henry said,

“We are doing pretty good right now, the roads cleaned up really well,” he said Tuesday morning. “There was already a light layer of salt down from the other night, and we got started at about six-thirty this morning [Tuesday]. That’s when it really started coming down.”

Henry said that precipitation varied around the county, from half an inch to three quarters of an inch of snow. He said there weren’t many trouble spots.

“Bardstown Trail was an issue at about eight o’clock on the hill, but, other than that, everything went well,” he said.

Law enforcement personnel said motorists had more problems on county roads than in town.

“Our city roads were not bad at all; my compliments to our public works department,” Shelbyville Police Chief Danny Goodwin said. “I know the county has lots more area to cover than we do, but we had very few issues in the city.”

Shelby County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Murray said roads got better later into the morning, but that they were “terrible” early on.

“It was really slick,” he said, adding that there were two accidents on Frankfort Road and two cars slid off the road on Bardstown Trail. “We also had a couple [accidents] on [Interstate] sixty-four, and then we had a truck hit a light pole over on Mulberry Trail – it broke the pole in half –  and I have been out there with KU. They are setting a new pole.”

Bob Price, spokesperson for Kentucky Utilities, said that incident did not affect any customers.

“We didn’t have anybody out because of that; we were very fortunate,” he said.

Henry said he had heard there is a slight chance of another round of weather this weekend.

National Service Meteorologist Robert Szappanos said that today should be mostly sunny with highs in the mid-30s, dipping down to 13 degrees tonight, with a similar outlook for Thursday.

“We don’t foresee any precipitation through Friday,” he said. “Then there could be a snow or rain event, but right now it’s iffy.”

Henry said that whatever the weather turns out to be, his crews will be prepared to deal with it.

“We’ll just have to watch and wait and see what it does,” he said. “We’ll be ready for whatever needs to be done.”


Sentinel-News Staff Reporter Todd Martin contributed to this story.