CITY, COUNTY PARALYZED
January 6, 2014
Wells County, along with the entire region and the upper Midwest, is at a virtual standstill this morning in the immediate wake of what appears to be the worst winter storm in many years. The News-Banner will post up-to-date information here as it can be gathered.
Wells County went to a Level 3, or Red, travel status Sunday evening,
meaning travel on county roads is limited to emergency management workers
The city of Bluffton has essentially matched that, as Mayor Ted Ellis
declared a weather emergency that will extend until 5 p.m. Monday.
Wells County and much of Indiana was blanketed by snowfall Sunday. The
snow appeared to be tapering off Sunday night, but additional snowfall –
“heavy at times” – was predicted in the form of snow showers for the
overnight hours on Sunday night/Monday morning. Monday and Tuesday are
expected to bring miserably frigid temperatures – a high of -11 on Monday
and -2 on Tuesday – plus winds between 25 and 35 miles per hour. That will
result in wind chill factors of -40 or worse.
Ellis had said earlier Sunday, during a meeting with city and county
officials at City Hall, that he was reluctant to go to an emergency
declaration, but the aftermath of Sunday’s snowfall -- subzero
temperatures and high winds -- concerned him more than the snowfall
The county’s move to a Level 3 advisory asks individuals to refrain from
all travel and comply with necessary emergency measures.
“It’s crazy out there,” said Scott Mossburg, president of the Wells County
Commissioners, shortly before the county bumped up its status level. “No
one has any business being out on the roads.”
Bluffton Police Chief Tammy Schaffer emphasized the words in Ellis’s
declaration Sunday afternoon. The order prohibits “driving, parking, or
stopping of vehicles along city streets, except as may be necessary to
protect property or human life.”
“That does not include just going out to see that someone’s mother is OK,”
she said. Police officers can accomplish that task, she said.
Schaffer also said that a short-term warming center has been prepared at
Bluffton’s Police-Fire Building. She also said the National Guard Armory
was being set up for individuals who need to be out of the cold – such as
a power outage that means a house will have no heat or light.
“We really recommend that they contact a friend first, to stay with them,”
Ellis, earlier Sunday, also asked that everyone check on their neighbors.
Also worth noting:
All three of Wells County’s public school districts – Northern Wells
Community Schools, Southern Wells Community Schools, and schools in the
Bluffton-Harrison Metropolitan School District – will be closed Monday.
That was supposed to be the first day back to class following Christmas
The Wells County Courthouse and Bluffton’s City Hall, in keeping with the
weather declarations, will both be closed Monday.
An update meeting involving city and county officials will be held at 9
a.m. Monday to see what the needs are.
Meetings of the Wells County Commissioners, the Wells County Solid Waste
District, and the Wells County Drainage Board will be delayed until