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Ice, sleet, snow blanket county

Many Van Buren County residents are still trying to dig out from a winter storm that began last Thursday afternoon.

The wintry weather, beginning Thursday with an icy rain and sleet followed by snow, closed schools, county offices and many businesses for several days. County offices opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Before the weather turned ugly, thousands of linemen had moved into the state to help with what was expected to be widespread power outages.

However, in Van Buren County, according to Petit Jean Electric’s Dale Smith, the highest number of outages at any one time was about 400 after a tree fell on a main feeder between Jerusalem and Cleveland in the western part of the county.

The rest of the outages were small ones, leaving 20 to 30 members out for a time. These were mostly scattered also in the western part of the system.

“To have less than 1,000 total outages I’d say we were very lucky. And very thankful,” Smith said in an e-mail.

One of the biggest problems faced by residents the past few days has been just trying to walk outside. A layer of snow over several inches of ice has left the ground packed solid and led to many people falling.

Though U.S. 65 is mostly clear, side roads are not. Sheriff Scott Bradley posted a message on his Facebook page Monday afternoon warning residents that Highways 110, 245, 16 and other roads are still treacherous.

Beginning with Wednesday’s forecast, the situation is looking up. Much of the ice should melt Wednesday and Thursday as high temperatures should be in the 40s.

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