As students prepared for winter term, the news of school cancellations throughout the Bend area erupted. Snow continued to blanket the city, and students tried their best to make it to class despite dangerous road conditions.
Cancellation after cancellation took over the Bend La Pine School District and the surrounding areas, giving the students six snow days since their return to school just one week prior. Record snow continued to fall and the city continued to clear the roads, but the expected amount of snowfall for the season was more than most anticipated. Rooftops were caked with mounds of white powder, and roofs began to cave with over three-feet of wet, dense snow piling up on them.
The gymnasium roof at Kenwood Elementary collapsed early Thursday, Jan. 12, creating all area schools to be close immediately.
Central Oregon Community College snow removal included 7.65 miles of roadway and parking lot aisle ways, 507,540 square feet of parking spaces, 6.8 miles of sidewalks, .3 miles of stairways, and 65,425 square feet of patios.
Typically, the snow removal cycle allows maintenance crews to remove and maintain the roads and parking lots, but as storms continued with minimal time in between them, it was more difficult for maintenance crews to maintain the overall up keeping of the area.
“A typical storm can have 25 to 30 workers at a given time. That number fluctuates as overlapping shifts start and end,” said campus services operations supervisor, Mike Beaulieu. The snow removal process is, of course, limited by budget.
Last academic school year, the team exceeded the annual budget for snow removal in March, but this year it is anticipated that they will exceed it by Feb. 1.
“However, the college does have emergency funds set aside to cover snow removal expenses during years of excessive snow events such as 2016-17,” Beaulieu added.
Snow removal preparation begins in September and stretches through November. The crew begins to install plows and snow stakes, maintain all the equipments, and materials, such as, ice melt, magnesium chloride, and cinders are ordered. Overall organization for larger storms forecasted begins early as college crews prepare for the incoming weather.
Though many crews have been working hard to remove the snow, the continual dumping of snow created difficult circumstances, including cancellations of classes during the first week of school. Although COCC had attempted to make this a smooth process, students still voiced their disapproval of road/campus maintenance via Facebook on the school’s page. They expressed their concerns and uncertainty as the snow continued.
Many students were unable to attend all of their classes until the second week of schools when classes finally resumed. Students’ main concern throughout this week was getting dropped from their classes, as they are often reminded that a no-show during the first week of classes means automatic removal from the class.
COCC sent out a statement clarifying that:
“The College we will be making modifications to this policy given that some classes will not be meeting this week due to weather related closures” via their Facebook page and students’ emails.
Skiers and snowboarders around Bend used these cancellations to their advantage and headed to the mountain for a few more days of killer conditions. Mount Bachelor celebrated with their 100 inches of snow Jan. 13, but the ski resort has received over 300 inches since the beginning of their season.
Jaxson Landrus, engineering major, at OSU-Cascades took an unlikely turn and decided to spend his afternoons at Smith Rock State Park.
“The conditions have been perfect for climbing at Smith [Rock]. It’s a little chilly and snowy getting there, but when the sun comes out it’s nice t-shirt weather,” said Landrus.
As class has resumed to normal schedules, students remain prepared for the snowy, icy conditions to continue, allowing themselves extra time to get to class and being prepared for more potential class cancellations.
Olivia Webb | The Broadside