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Snow, ice blanket county
Schools, businesses close for two days

For the second time in two weeks, thousands of residents in east-central Georgia, including those in McDuffie County, enjoyed a snowfall.

Unlike the Dec. 26 snowfall -- an estimated 3 inches was measured in parts of McDuffie and Warren counties -- the recent storm was far more dangerous because it was an icy event as well.

Luckily, no serious injuries were reported from wrecks in the two-county area, according to authorities.

Students and teachers in public schools in McDuffie and Warren counties enjoyed an unexpected break. McDuffie County schools were closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of icy conditions on roadways.

Students and teachers at Briarwood Academy also had those two days off because of the weather.

Classes also were canceled Monday and Tuesday at the Thomson campus of Augusta Technical College.

Hundreds of employees at area plants were idled because of travel hazards. Many of those plants resumed operations late Tuesday.

Many people, especially youngsters and teenagers, took advantage of the two-day break to play in the snow -- something that rarely happens in this area. Children, as well as adults, had fun sliding down hills in the Pine Hills subdivision of Thomson. Some people even went to Sweetwater Park, just outside Thomson, for snow sliding. Others had fun in a field near Huddle House in downtown Thomson.

Others enjoyed riding four-wheelers or simply taking a stroll along city streets and looking at the winter wonderland.

They included Bob Corbitt, who parked his car on Railroad Street and took to the streets before making his way to a restaurant to warm up and eat.

Frigid temperatures, accompanied by bone-chilly winds, invaded the area Sunday afternoon. By 8:50 Sunday night, big flakes of snow had begun falling in downtown Thomson. Within 11/2 hours, the snow had begun sticking to vehicles and grassy areas. About an inch of snow fell during that period.

More snow, as well as sleet and freezing rain, fell during the night.

Streets in downtown Thomson and in McDuffie and Warren counties became slushy with ice. By early Monday, road conditions in many parts of both counties were covered with snow and ice.

Such conditions made driving more dangerous.

"We didn't have any serious accidents, and we're all thankful for that," McDuffie County Sheriff's Office Maj. Ronnie Williamson said Monday afternoon.

Extra deputies were called out Monday and Tuesday. Dispatchers with the 911 centers in both counties stayed busy answering hundreds of calls from residents interested in road conditions and wondering whether they had to go to work, Maj. Williamson said.

"Our dispatchers received all kinds of calls from the public, and they tried to help each one of those callers," he added.

Temperatures never rose above the freezing mark in Thomson on Monday. By midafternoon, icy patches of roadway, including several portions of Interstate 20, became slicker and more hazardous.

Several motorists hit icy patches along I-20 and ran off into ditches. In many cases, they needed wreckers to pull them out.

While extra deputies patrolled McDuffie County on Monday and Tuesday, extra troopers from the Georgia State Patrol post in Grovetown also were on the roadways in McDuffie, Warren, Glascock, Columbia and Richmond counties.

Workers from the McDuffie County Public Works Department also stayed busy dealing with the winter storm.

Eric Resinger, director of the county public works department, said his crews began preparing for the storm Sunday afternoon.

"We put salt and gravel on all our bridges in the county, as well as the overpasses over the interstate highway," Mr. Resinger said.

His crews also scraped snow and ice off city streets and county roadways.

"My guys did a great job," Mr. Resinger said. "I've got a great group of guys. I can't thank them enough for all the hard work they put in during this winter storm."

Web posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

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