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After snow, it’s business as usual
All that remained Monday from last week’s anticipated snowfall were large clumps of snow and thousands of tons of dirt mixtures piled in corners of parking lots and thin layers of snow that hadn’t melted yet in some shady areas.
Despite the 6 to 8 inches of snow that fell in Central Kitsap and Bremerton, Kitsap County offices resumed work as usual — some were even working last week unhindered by the snow.
“Other than the fact that Wednesday was a closure and the delays, during the [open hours] there were people able to work,” said Doug Bear, Kitsap County spokesman.
In some offices, people were able to make it to work even though the county administration building and courthouse were officially closed last Wednesday. Bear said some people in the Auditor’s Office worked that day because a lot of them typically begin at 6:30 a.m. and arrived before the roads got bad. All of them came in the next day regardless of icy road conditions that kept some people at home. However, only eight customers came in for licensing and four in for recording, he said.
In general, there fewer people that came to the county last week and therefore resulted in a lower volume of customers, said Bear. Snow is an inconvenience, he said.
In other offices, such as the Assessor’s Office, most people worked the full day Thursday and some roadwork was shifted to office work. The office had 20 real estate transactions that day.
Preliminary estimates on the cost for the response to the storm was about $153,000, Bear said Tuesday. This number is broken down to $47,000 going toward both regular and overtime road maintenance staff, $31,000 in equipment costs, $55,000 for sand and $20,000 for salt brine. A total of 3,279 tons of sand and more than 150,000 gallons of salt brine were used on county roads.
The Clerk’s Office reported to Bear that most staff were able to work last Thursday afternoon and a few arrived into the office at 8 a.m. even though the courthouse had a delayed opening, which had it officially opening at noon. Last Friday was the final delay day with the courthouse opening at 10 a.m., a two-hour delay. The administration building and most other county offices are regulary closed Fridays.
Kitsap County Prosecutor Russell Hauge said that whenever the court is in session, he and his staff need to be available to work. If someone is arrested, that person has a right to be in court the next session, he said.
The court did not have jurors come in during the snowstorm days and therefore there are two or three pending cases, Hauge said Monday. Other than those, at noon last Thursday, the court picked up where they would have been the day before.
“With people straggling in, it put a little stress on,” said Hauge adding that they did not suffer any “major difficulties.”
While there were those that “had” to brave the snowy conditions for work, there were others who also did so for volunteer purposes.
The county’s Severe Weather Shelter, which opens when the temperature is expected to be 32 degrees or lower, and is operated by trained volunteers, was open from the evening of Jan. 10 to the morning of Jan. 21, said Susan May, spokeswoman for the county Department of Emergency Management.
The shelter, at the Bremerton Foodline, ranged in occupants from eight on low evenings and 23 at most, said May. The most people came when there was snow. There are always a minimum of two volunteers present — one woman and one man — who run the shelter and if there are not enough volunteers, the shelter cannot open.
And although the shelter is only open during the evenings when temperatures are freezing or below, the Foodline director allowed the shelter to remain open for people during the day Wednesday — the day with the most snowfall.
Throughout the county’s 940 miles of road, only two roads — not in Central Kitsap or Bremerton — had to close due to the snow. Both are connecter roads — one on the north end of the county and the other in Port Orchard — that are hilly, said Bear.
The response to clearing the roads was successful, said Bear, adding that the county has a “priority one” and “priority two” list of roads to plow first. Because the snow was forewarned by forecasters, the county had also pretreated the roads. Priority one routes include commercial zones and emergency routes and were being plowed during the first 36 hours.
The Central Kitsap School District plans to tack on three days to the end of the school year in June to make up for last week’s snow days. If the district receives information from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding waiver days, the situation could change, said David Beil, district spokesman.
On Monday, there had been no reports of any major flooding in the county due to snow melt, said Bear.
Overall, while most said the snow was an inconvenience, it could have been worse.
“We’re pretty lucky over here,” said May. “We may have seen the same amount of snow and wind but we didn’t have power outages.”