By William Holloman
Days of brutally cold air well below the area’s average temperature and the season’s first snowfall caused big concerns for those town employees who work outside. Town Manager Charles Brown said those impacted had to be careful and take all caution for protection against the winter cold.
“Basically, it brings about the same kind of problem that we have in excessive heat during the summer,” the town manager explained when asked how officials are coping with the bitter cold. “We still have things that have to be done and we have to make sure our personnel are equipped appropriately. They are constantly reminded to protect themselves and we make sure they have the proper clothing to handle the cold.
“I think it is a matter of using common sense; if the cold begins to bother them, then they need to get out of it,” Brown added.
The town manager remembered a situation several years ago that he said pretty well sums up “we still have things that have to be done.” He recalled a water line that had broken along NC Highway 55 West when the weather was in the teens during a near-blinding snow storm. Despite the conditions, the break had to be repaired.
“Sometimes we have to protect ourselves the best we can and get the job done in a situation like that,” Brown said.
On Wednesday night, a winter storm dumped three to four inches of snow on the Mount Olive area, shutting down municipal operations and creating treacherous driving conditions. Essential town personnel were still on duty, but town hall shut down on Thursday and was on a delayed scheduled for Friday. Downtown businesses were also shut down and only a few brave citizens were seen out in the cold, both of them walking their dog.
The town manager said he has not been advised of any emergency issues due to the weather and said it appeared most people were taking the advice of officials to stay home unless absolutely necessary to get on the streets and roads.
Major food stores were opened and the Piggly Wiggly parking lot had been cleared of much of the snow that had fallen.
Several cars were seen abandoned by the icy road on the U.S. Highway 117 Bypass between the fairgrounds at NC Highway 13 and Mount Olive. Schools were also shut down across the county.
Motorists were still advised to use extreme caution due to temperatures that were not expected to rise above freezing until Sunday. Nightfall would see temperatures drop and whatever left on streets and roads would freeze again.