SIDNEY — Welcome to winter — when the cold weather, featuring subzero temperatures, is officially here.
According to the Sidney Waterwaste Treatment Plant, there has been eight days in a row of below zero temperatures between Dec. 26 through Jan. 3. The temperature in Sidney dropped as low as -19 degrees, ranging up to a whopping -1 degree.
Snow has fallen on several days since Christmas, but due such low temperatures, snow will not pack, and building a snowman has proved to be a difficult task. But the inability to build a snowman is the least of the problems cold weather causes.
This week, below freezing temperatures caused a water main on Ruth Street to break, leaving about 22 houses in Sidney without water on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Luckily, it was repaired within the day.
Gary Clough, Sidney’s assistant city manager/public works director, said water mains break because of the shifting ground. He said if the ground stays frozen all winter, it does not cause problems, as things are stable. However, if the ground freezes and then thaws and then refreezes and then thaws, it can cause water mains to break all over town.
Fire Deputy Chief Cameron Haller said although the cold does not pose problems with fire hydrants, because its valves are located below the frost line, if a water main breaks, the water is shut off and then the correlating fire hydrant is out of service.
Also, the frigid temperatures have caused most schools to either close or be on a delay.
Sidney City Schools were canceled Wednesday due to both the wind chill temperatures and problems keeping school buses running.
Sidney Schools Superintendent John Scheu said in an email, “Four of our 13 buses would not stay started, even with a full fuel tank, because of the fuel freezing. We have added additional additive to the fuel to help prevent this from re-occurring. Our maintenance staff, while checking the buildings for any cold related issues, discovered that some coils to our heaters were frozen and had to be thawed. We also had to adjust some air handler controls during this same time frame.”
Fairlawn’s Superintendent Jeff Hobbs also said they had issues with buses not starting, but said “school wise (they) we pretty good.”
“We are a little different than a few of our county schools because of bus stops and longer bus routes. The cold this morning was not as bad but the wind chill hit you right in the face and could be deadly” to young kids,” Hobbs said in an email. “As well, we went on delay the night before, just for safety purposes, to make sure it was daylight for our buses and kids who were out in the cold.”
Steven Rose, superintendent of Russia Local School, said they have “been fortunate to have very few issues due to the cold.” He said all of their buses have been running and haven’t had problems with heat or frozen water wipes.
So far, said Superintendent Daniel Holland, Fort Loramie Local Schools have not had issues with their buses or buildings, but do have concern about students waiting outside in the very cold temperatures. They also have delayed school to “give ourselves some daylight, should a bus have mechanical issues.” He said switching students into a new bus in the dark causes safety concerns they would like to avoid.
“The two main concerns for us with the cold have been student safety and mechanical issues with our bus fleet. There is a concern with students waiting for buses when the temperatures dip as low as they have been with wind chill. … Although we do have town bus stops, we do see a number of students walking to school, as well,” Holland said in an email.
Jackson Center’s Superintendent Bill Reichert said they have not had any issues so far. But if they delay, despite the buses running as they should, Reichert said, it is to “hopefully get a few more degrees before the kids start walking or start their wait on a bus (and) to get more light. …” — in case a bus or student’s vehicle was to break down.
“I hope the number of days we need to adjust for the cold is at a minimum,” Reichert said in an email.
“Up to now, Hardin-Houston has been fortunate,” said Superintendent Larry Claypool. “Our drivers have gotten up extra early to be sure the buses are warmed up, and so far — thanks to our maintenance and custodial team — the building has been warm and water pipes have been fine.”
Claypool said in an email that the “positive thing” about their district is that very few students walk to school, and that most stay warm by waiting in the house for the bus, or in a car on the way to school.
Botkins’ Superintendent Jeff McPheron said in an email, “the cold weather has caused some concern for us at Botkins. …(but) have been fortunate that our heating systems have performed well, and so have our buses.”
He said they have kept additional buses running with an additional driver on stand by in case of an issue. Also, they have “closely monitored” students when getting on and off of buses, as well as keep them inside for all activities.
Kimberly Waterman, superintendent/K-3 principal for New Knoxville Local School, said their buses are not kept inside, so the cold does affect them.
“To help, we add an additive to the gasoline to help prevent it from freezing. We start the buses extra early and allow them to run longer before leaving on the routes. With that being said, we were only able to get 3 (out of) 5 of our buses to start the first day back (to school) on Wednesday. Thankfully, the building heat has not been an issue,” Waterman said in an email. “Mopping and cleaning floors is nonstop due to tracking in snow, ice and the leftover residue of salt.”
According to AccuWeather, Sidney is expected to experience single digit temperatures with a high of 12 degrees the next few days. But on Monday, the forecast finally calls for temperatures to rise above freezing to 37 degrees.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.