Ice, downed trees snarl bus routes

PARKERSBURG – Wood County Schools was open for business Wednesday, but not without weather-related issues.

Several area school systems were closed Wednesday because of an overnight storm that dropped a mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet. Doddridge, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane and Tyler counties closed schools, while Jackson, Wirt and Wood counties operated on two-hour delays. Belpre and Marietta city schools were closed Wednesday because of road conditions.

Though temperatures rose above freezing overnight, the mix of sleet and freezing rain, coupled with still slushy roads, made for slick driving conditions in many parts of the county.

Wood County Schools students have missed nine days of instruction this year, almost all of those in recent months, with several two-hour delay days as well. On Wednesday officials delayed the opening of schools by two hours but kept the buildings open and classes in session.

Mike Fling, assistant superintendent of school services, said while buses were running and schools were open, the district saw several weather-related problems Wednesday morning.

“We did have two buses that slid into ditches on their way to pick up students,” he said. “There were no students on board at that time.”

Fling said there was no damage to the vehicles and they were able to run their regular routes with help from other buses.

Two other routes were blocked by downed trees. Fling said buses had to wait on Middle Fork Lee Creek Road in Belleville and also near Laurel Run while crews removed debris from the roads.

“That cost us time,” he said.

Also time consuming, Fling said drivers installed chains on the bus tires to give better traction on the sometimes slushy and icy roads.

“It takes a little extra time, but we’d rather take the extra time and be safe,” Fling said.

About eight of the school district’s 98 buses ran late Wednesday morning.

“Things went very well considering the road conditions,” he said.

Area police scrambled to cover student walking routes after crossing guards had issues getting to work.

Areas of the county lost power Wednesday morning because of ice and downed tree limbs. Fling said while it did not affect area schools, the outage did affect families.

“We always work with families in those situations on their attendance,” he said. “It was really out of their control.”

Fling said despite the issues, teachers, administrators and students were grateful to be back in session Wednesday.

“If we have the chance to go to school and we can get everyone there safely, we have to do that,” Fling said.

As of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, a two-hour delay had been established for Wood, Tyler, Ritchie, Pleasants and Doddridge counties in West Virginia, as well as Marietta City Schools in Ohio.