City, county map out plans to deal with storm

January 5, 2014 — By Dave Schultz

City and county leaders, holding an extraordinary meeting Sunday afternoon

at CIty Hall, pledged cooperation during Sunday's snowfall and the
bone-chilling temperatures and high winds predicted for Monday and
Warming centers will be set up, as Jon Oman, the city's operations
manager, was going to check on options. Right now, if anyone is in the
bone-chilling cold without power, they are advised to make it to the
Bluffton Police-Fire Building where arrangements will be made for
short-term housing. Oman was also going to check with some area churches
to see if they'd be willing to host shelters, if the need arose.
Wayne Grove, head of Wells County's Emergency Management Agency, said he
has been in contact with area Red Cross officials, who pledged to respond
to the need for shelters if they became necessary.
Crews from all city departments said they would help Street Commissioner
Dave Robison and the Street Department crews move and haul snow, if
necessary. Water Department personnel said their trucks could be used to
clear alleys, for instance.
City roads are one thing. County roads are something else altogether.
Scott Mossburg, president of the Wells County Commissioners, said that the
city had enough trucks to at least make an effort to keep its main traffic
arteries open, but the county did not have enough resources to open the
roads and keep them open.
"If a truck goes down Old 303 (Wells County Road 300W) and plows, with the
wind, it could be covered back over in 20 minutes," he said.
Nevertheless, Mossburg said he would check with Ed Herman, superintendent
of the Wells County Highway Department, about getting a truck stationed in
southern Wells County and possible another one stationed in northern Wells
County. The trucks would be ready to go in case of a fire run, ambulance
run, or other emergency. Fisher suggested the one in northern Wells be
housed at Uniondale because he was uncertain if there was available room
in the Ossian town building.
Bluffton Fire Chief Chris Broderick told those assembled at the meeting
that he would be calling in a full crew to staff the city's main fire
station as needed during the next few days "so they could be ready to
roll." He said he had already talked to Herman and a driver would be
stationed at the Wells County Highway Department on Bluffton's west side,
ready to plow the road ahead of any emergency vehicles as needed.
Broderick also said he was trying to put together a meeting of Wells
County fire chiefs to discuss their plans for response during the storm.
Mayor Ted Ellis called the meeting and hosted it in the downstairs
conference room at City Hall. Attending were Police Chief Tammy Schaffer,
Broderick, Parks and Recreations Department Superintendent Pam Vanderkolk,
Greg Castilow of the city's wastewater treatment plant, Wells County
Sheriff Monte Fisher, plus Mossburg, Oman, Grove, Mossburg, Dick Green of
the city's Electric Department, and other city employees.
Ellis said that if the city was to declare a weather emergency, it would
be done Sunday afternoon. Mossburg said the county would probably declare
an advisory Monday morning.
Mossburg also said he expected the Wells County Courthouse would be closed
Monday. He said he had to check with Blake Gerber on his availability, but
he expects the commissioners' meeting would be delayed until Wednesday.

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