Snow wreaks havoc on Greene County roads

February 3, 2014
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This accident on Route 21 involving three teens was one of a half-dozen caused at least in part by Sunday’s snowstorm.
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Bob Niedbala/ Observer-Reporter
A man cleans the four to five inches of snow off the roof of his car in the Waynesburg University parking lot at the corner of Franklin and Washington streets in Waynesburg Monday morning. Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – The Greene County Emergency Management Agency and its first responders, from police to ambulance personnel, were kept busy Sunday evening into Monday morning as a result of the latest winter storm that dumped 6 to 8 inches of snow on most of the county.

Also, this latest round of relentless winter weather is beginning to stress some Greene County municipalities’ salt and cinder supplies.

“At 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, we received an update from the National Weather Service and (the snow) was still in the 2-to-4-inch range. The next update came in at 9:14 p.m. and it jumped to 6 to 8 inches,” said 911 Supervisor Jeff Rhodes. “So, I guess there really was no warning other than it kept snowing.”

The first of six accidents called in to 911 occurred at 8 p.m. at Pumpkin Run and Route 88 in Rices Landing. Twenty minutes later, there was a wreck on High Street in Waynesburg Borough. Neither accident resulted in injuries.

A 9:05 p.m. call to 911 resulted in three teenagers taken by ambulance to Uniontown Hospital. Loral Hathaway, 19, of Carmichaels lost control of her 2010 Chevy Silverado along Route 21 in the vicinity of Michaels Auto. Cumberland Township Police Chief Craig Miller said the accident was the result of road conditions and no charges were filed. Miller said Hathaway’s vehicle began to slide, overturned and rolled three times before coming to rest against a tree. She and passengers, Moriah Hathaway, 17, and Abby Cutwright, 16, also of Carmichaels, received moderate injuries in the crash.

Two people were taken to the hospital following a two vehicle accident at 10:20 p.m. along Nemacolin Road. The extent of their injuries was unknown. A Pontiac Grand Am driven by Joseph Brownlee, 24, of Nemacolin, began to slide as it traveled downhill, striking a guardrail and sending it into the path of a GMC Jimmy operated by William Bowser, 51, of Nemacolin.

Brownlee and a 5-year-old boy in his vehicle were taken to the hospital. A second passenger in Brownlee’s car, Arielle Jolly, was uninjured, as was Bowser’s passenger, Jennifer O’Connor. Charges are pending in this accident, according to Miller.

Two other accidents occurred within 15 minutes of each other and three miles apart on Interstate 79 near Ruff Creek, according to Rhodes. No injuries were reported in these wrecks that occurred at 12:25 a.m. and 12:39 a.m. despite a rollover in one of them.

“We had to pull a lot of people out who got stuck. It started around a 8:45 a.m. We had four get stuck at the top of Nemacolin Hill and two on the hill near Brioli’s (a muffler shop on Route 88 north),” Miller said. “We are hearing Wednesday is probably going to be worse.”

And that news probably won’t bode well with some municipalities.

Because of frequent snowstorms, Cumberland Township is short of salt and cinders it uses to treat township roads.

“We’ve probably used three-quarters of our cinders. We’re getting low,” said Cumberland supervisor Jim Sokol. The township has only about 400 to 500 tons of cinders left and is trying to get more.

The township purchases its cinders from Belmont Aggregates of Powhatan Point, Ohio. But other municipalities also are seeking more cinders from the company. “They’re having a hard time getting to us,” Sokol said.

The township also uses some salt, which it usually mixed with cinders. The township earlier received 22 tons of salt and had some left over from last year, Sokol said. That supply is gone.

American Rock Salt of Pittsburgh, the vendor the township uses for the material, was to deliver more salt late last week but didn’t show up. Township secretary Debra Rush said she would be calling the company again this week to try to arrange a shipment.

But in Franklin Township, Supervisor Reed Kiger said both the township’s salt and anti-skid materials are holding up pretty well.

“It’s been all of these little snows of a couple of inches here and there. You have to put the same amount of material down to deal with those snows as you would if you had a huge blizzard,” Kiger said.

Mike Simms, Waynesburg Borough manager said so far this winter the borough used 300 tons of salt. “But we received a shipment of 100 tons last week and we have another 100 tons on order,” he said.

Simms, who is tackling his first winter as borough manager, said he is hoping he now will have enough salt to get through February. “But there are no guarantees,” he said.

Greene County Bureau Chief Jon Stevens contributed to this story.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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