Government closings: Muscogee, Troup counties to close early; others monitoring

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comJanuary 27, 2014 

Update: Muscogee County began sending home non-essential employees around noon today.

Update: Troup County Government said Tuesday it will close at noon today and will remain closed through Wednesday.

Original story: The Columbus Consolidated Government will operate at full staff Tuesday morning, but will assess the weather situation at noon and decide then whether to send some employees home and close some non-essential offices, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said today.

Fort Benning officials said Monday the post will close two hours early Tuesday — or no later than 3 p.m. — and won't open earlier than 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Emergency and "mission-essential employees" should report to worksite on time, according to the news release.

Russell County non-emergency offices, including all offices at the Russell County Judicial Center, will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Peggy Martin, chairman of the Russell County Commission.

Phenix City officials spent the better part of Monday preparing for the worst, City Manager Wallace Hunter said.

"We are still looking at everything, and will the rest of the day," Hunter said Monday afternoon. "We will take a look at it again in the morning and monitor it throughout the day."

As of Monday afternoon, the city has not made the decision to shut down city offices and would likely wait until Tuesday morning to make that call, Hunter said. If the forecast changes overnight, Hunter said the city has a plan and system in place to notify employees.

"We are basically in emergency mode right now," Hunter said.

The city has been putting its public works and public safety employees on alert.

Phenix city has a snow blade they have installed on the front of 4-wheel drive pickup truck. It will allow them to plow in the case of snow accumulations. The blade, which was purchased a couple of years ago, was attached on Monday.

"Some people laughed at me when we bought it," Hunter said.

Tomlinson, who met this afternoon with Public Safety and Emergency Management leaders and other city staff, outlined several steps the city is taking in preparation of the incoming storm:

The city’s Public Works department has loaded trucks with sand and the city has a list of “trouble spots” that usually ice over earliest. City truck as also loaded with emergency barricades in case a stretch of road needs to be closed off.

The city’s 311 City Services line staff has been told to expect to staff the call center 24 hours a day through the winter storm. The city will use variable message boards around the city to warn drivers of specific hazards and will use the city’s telephonic message system to send out telephone alerts either city-wide or to specific areas.

The Columbus Police Department’s day shift will work a little later and the night shift will come in a little early so there will be more overlap between the shifts.

A decision will be made in the early afternoon whether Tuesday evening’s scheduled Columbus Council meeting will be cancelled.

Rose Hill United Methodist Church, 2101 Hamilton Road, will be used as a “warming station” for homeless people.

The city is also coordinating with the Red Cross, should its services be needed, Tomlinson said.

Staff writer Chuck Williams contributed to this report.

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