Snow blankets Johnston

pseligson@newsobserver.comJanuary 31, 2014 

The perfect snow for sledding began falling in Johnston County late Tuesday.

And by Wednesday morning, children were enjoying their first snow day of the year, sledding down the big hill on the Smithfield Town Commons.

“It’s awesome,” said Michael Higgs Jr., 10, of Smithfield, who went sledding with his sister. “It’s just the wind and speed and everything.”

Michael also loves snowball fights. “It’s just fun,” he said. “Get hit in the face with a snow ball.”

Four to five inches of snow fell overnight Tuesday in Johnston County. Schools dismissed early on Tuesday and were closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Town of Smithfield offices were closed Wednesday and opened late on Thursday. County government opened for only a few hours Wednesday and opened at noon on Thursday.

By Wednesday evening, the snow had caused no traffic accidents in Smithfield, according to the police department, which stayed open, along with the fire department, EMS, public utilities and public works.

Countywide, only 19 minor traffic accidents had happened by Wednesday evening, said Beverly Herring, supervisor for Johnston County 911. “Everybody’s done really well with staying in and being careful on the roadways,” she said.

The N.C. Department of Transportation began salting roads Monday evening, including highways 70, 210 and 301.

Knowing well in advance about the approaching snow helped crews better prepare the roads, said DOT communications officer Jennifer Garifo. “It definitely gives the salt more time to adhere to the pavement, which will better enable us to remove the snow and ice after it has fallen,” she said.

DOT crews went back out on the roads throughout the week salting and clearing the snow.

Smithfield had three plows out on its streets, along with eight people salting and clearing sidewalks, said Lenny Branch, public works director. Crews worked through Wednesday evening. They were back on the streets early Thursday to pick up trash.

The timing of the snowfall worked in the town’s favor; Smithfield doesn’t pick up trash on Wednesdays, so those staff members worked on snow removal.

“We actually got really lucky in that,” Branch said.

School spokeswoman Tracey Peedin-Jones said the Board of Education will decide exactly which days to use as makeup days. The next makeup day on the calendar is Feb. 17 for traditional and year-round students, and May 23 for Early College and Middle College students.

But the children sledding down the big hill near the Neuse River didn’t seem to care.

“It’s really exiting because we don’t usually get snow,” said Haley Culpepper, 10, of Four Oaks. “I like the snow because I get to have fun with my sister.”

Her mom, Tara Baker, said the best part of snow is the look of excitement on her daughters’ faces. “We didn’t have very many snow days like this when I was little, so it’s pretty good that they got one,” she said.

Baker’s younger daughter, Peyton Baker, 5, had this to say when asked about her favorite thing about the snow: “Why wouldn’t you like everything?”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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