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In wake of winter weather, Wheaton cuts down on salt use

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 2:09 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 2:37 a.m. CDT

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WHEATON – Wheaton has experienced more than 30 snow events this winter as of this week, City Manager Don Rose said during Monday's City Council meeting.

At this time last year, it had seen six.

The first major snowfall last winter occurred in February, whereas so far in January, the city has received 16 inches, according to Director of Street Services Mike Wakefield.

All that snow and ice has strained city resources, Rose said. Barring another deal with salt supplier Morton Salt, Wakefield said, only 750 to 900 tons remain in the city's possession.

Although Street Services has cut back on salt use by salting solely the sides of streets and the intersections of smaller roads, the supply will likely run out at the end of February, he said.

"As frugal as we are right now, we're probably good and we might be able to get through February, but it all depends on what happens," Wakefield said. "I can't predict the weather."

His projection could be optimistic if snowfall persists or the city has an ice storm.

"Any kind of ice storm, we're doomed," Wakefield said. "When you get ice, you have to put it down. You can't neglect any part of the road and you have to put it down at a high rate."

If temperatures stay as low as they are, he said, the salt the city has won't be enough to clear the roads, even supplemented by liquid deicer.

Crews have kept the roads free of ice the last several days, Wakefield said, containing snow drifts in the face of high winds. He said so far, accidents have been limited.

"We haven't had a lot of complaints and we're not having a lot of accidents," Wakefield said. "I think people have learned to accept the conditions. If it's 15 below, you're going to have hard pack snow on the roads and you're going to have to be careful."

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District 200 nearing cap on built-in emergency days for weather cancellations

Community Unit School District 200 will likely delay its final day of school to June 12 at the earliest because of winter weather cancellations in recent weeks, according to district Director of Public Relations Erica Loiacono.

The district includes five emergency days in its calendar, Loiacono said. Any cancellations past that require an official board vote to change the ending of the school year with the state. That vote would likely take place in April or May, after the probability of emergency weather decreases, she said.

Although the middle and high schools returned to class from holiday break Jan. 21, they still have to make up the days because the elementary schools were in session during the first bout of snow earlier in January.

"No doubt it certainly disrupts the flow of the school year," Loiacono said. "However, our teachers are professionals and they are eager to get our students back in the classroom and get them back on track as soon as possible,"

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