By Rosemary K. Otzman
Boy, was it snowy and cold and icy.
A winter snowstorm that dropped its first heavy load last Thursday and then went into high gear again on Sunday night, closed the Van Buren Public Schools and Keystone Charter Academy for three days.
On Monday the township halls at Sumpter and Van Buren were closed, as well as the the Secretary of State’s office, and many businesses along Main Street.
Besides the snow, beginning Monday, through midweek, record low, sub-zero temperatures hit the area with dangerous windchills from 25 to 40 below zero.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Van Buren and Keystone Academy schools joined more than 800 schools in Michigan taking additional Snow Days. This made the Christmas vacation for the students grow from the original 16 days to 19 consecutive days.
On Monday, the City of Belleville office was open with a small staff that grew as the day wore on. The city council meeting went on as scheduled Monday night.
Belleville Mayor Kerreen Conley said that holding the council meeting as scheduled reflects on the city leadership.
“If we can’t plow our streets so people can get around, it’s our fault,” Mayor Conley said. She noted the city plows its own streets, but the townships have to rely on the county for snow removal.
All the tri-community police departments were on duty and all the fire departments were on call throughout it all. VBT Police sent out a number of electronic Nixle alerts, as did Sumpter Police.
VBT Hall reopened on Tuesday, but Sumpter Township Hall was still closed due to “extreme weather conditions,” but reopened on Wednesday.
Official figures from Metro Airport show 6.4” and 4.4” of snow fell in the Jan. 1-2 storm and 10.2” and .8” fell in the Jan 5-6 storm – about 11” each storm. It settled down to 16” on the ground on Monday, when temperatures plummeted and ice became a problem on the roads.
Belleville Police Chief Gene Taylor said people in the city were driving with caution and there were only a few fender-benders. However, some people got stuck in their driveways, he noted.
Chief Taylor said the police department’s newly painted Humvee (no graphics yet) was put into service during the storm Sunday and was ready for emergency use on Monday.
He said Wayne County Roads did a very good job clearing area roads, with the exception of Hull Road, which was covered in high snow Monday morning.
Belleville Fire Chief Loranger told the city council Monday that on Sunday evening Huron Valley Ambulance and a fire department emergency crew had to send for the DPW to shovel a patient out of a house on Roland Street because they couldn’t get to the house.
Temporary warming center
On Tuesday morning, there was a disruption of the flow of natural gas to the Archwood, Lighthouse, and Bellridge apartment complexes on the North I-94 Service Drive in VBT, with a loss of heat to the apartments.
VBT Supervisor Linda Combs invited those from the apartments to the Recreation Center at the township hall as a temporary warming center until heat could be restored to their apartments. And, heat was restored later Tuesday.
Supervisor Combs said this warming center is not exclusive to these residents and all residents without heat are welcome. She said the township recreation center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and anyone is welcome to come in to get warm and, during the summer, come in to get cool.
The Senior Center, Recreation Center, Otisville/Sheldon room and Board room are available for this use, she said.
By Rosemary K. Otzman