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Snow brings accidents, early class dismissals to in Mid-Ohio Valley

Traffic, including a snow plow from the West Virginia Department of Highways, makes its way down Parkersburg's Fifth Street during a heavy snow fall late Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Art Smith)

PARKERSBURG — A winter storm brought several inches of snow to several counties in the Mid-Ohio Valley Thursday.

A Level 1 snow emergency was declared for Washington County by Sheriff Larry Mincks. Agencies reported slick conditions on local roads with numerous fender benders.

And two counties in West Virginia and some in Ohio were under a winter weather advisory. The warnings were for Jackson, Doddridge, Wetzel, Ritchie, Calhoun, Roane and Wirt counties in West Virginia.

Counties under a winter weather advisory included Pleasants, Tyler and Wood counties in West Virginia and Washington and Meigs counties in Ohio.

The National Weather Service said the advisories and warnings that started at noon Thursday were to end at 8 a.m. today.

A four-wheel drive vehicle makes its way across the Belpre Bridge during a heavy snow fall late Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Art Smith)

And there have been many reports of fender-benders, with many requests for salt in Wood County.

Many school districts in the Mid-Ohio Valley region in West Virginia sent students home early Thursday as a result.

However, Wood County and schools in Washington and Meigs Counties in Ohio did not send students home early.

Michael Wells, superintendent of Pleasants County Schools, said students were sent home at 1:30 p.m.

“We want to get our kids home before the storm hits,” he said.

As for whether his district could start school today, Wells said he confers with the West Virginia Department of Highways Division 3, which includes Pleasants County, and with Jeff Sole, the maintenance and safety director, in making that decision.

Calhoun County Superintendent of Schools Kelli Whytsell said her district was dismissing classes early because of the weather, too.

“We had a weather briefing at 10 a.m. and we decided that we’d rather get our kids home,” she said.

Whytsell said it’s not a good idea to run the buses when road crews are out clearing the roads.

In addition, Whytsell said she and Transportation Director Michael Fitzwater check the roads at 3 a.m. and work with the Department of Highways to learn what the conditions are the day following the storm.

Then the decision is made by 5 a.m. on whether to open the schools.

However, Wood County Schools Coordinator of Communications Michael Erb said in a press release the district chose not to dismiss classes early.

“We do not believe early dismissal is needed, so the school day will continue as normal,” Erb said. “Our transportation department is preparing for winter weather and we urge drivers to take extra time and precautions during dismissal times as some roads could be slick.”

The district has been conferring with the National Weather Service and decided after learning light snow would start around 2 p.m. with the heavier snow arriving about 6 p.m., Erb said.

A Facebook post on the Wood County Schools Facebook page announced later in the day that schools in the district would be closed Friday due to the weather conditions.

According to a report by another media outlet, several schools in the area were canceling several area sporting events. Among those that were canceled were:

* Parkersburg girls basketball at Hurricane.

* Williamstown boys basketball at home against Calhoun.

* Parkersburg South boys basketball at Morgantown, rescheduled for Feb. 1.

* Parkersburg South wrestling at home against Point Pleasant.

* Parkersburg South swimming at West Virginia University.

* Parkersburg Catholic boy’s middle school game rescheduled for Jan. 10.

* Belpre City Schools — all games.

* Marietta Middle School girls basketball at home against Pleasants County Middle School.

Larry Launstein Jr. can be reached at llaunstein@newsandsentinel.com

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