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Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Wacky winter weather spurs creativity for some

By Shelley Grieshop

Despite the continuing bad winter weather, some workers - like those on the the. . .

CELINA - Mother Nature's wrath this winter has prompted some creative measures by those directly affected by her fury.
Without a little ingenuity, the frequent snowstorms would have left customers baffled at the St. Marys Chrysler Dodge Jeep car lot. Is that a black Sebring or a gray Charger? Who knows under the blanket of snow.
"We've been taking vehicles off the lot and into our drive-through area for customers to look at," salesman Scott Bailey said. "It's been a hectic year."
Employees clear the windshields of every vehicle in the lot and some weeks repeated the process the very next day, he said. It's also taken two snowplows and an unusually large amount of ice-melting chemicals to keep the parking lot clear, Bailey said.
He's never seen the weather so nasty for such a long stretch. "Oh, it's been a real treat," he said sarcastically.
Another round of wintry weather started as sleet Monday afternoon before changing to snow. By 7 a.m. today, an additional inch and a half of snow covered the mounds already on the ground.
Celina High School junior Jimmy Luebke on Monday afternoon trudged his way along Sugar Street across frozen drifts and slippery sidewalks to deliver The Daily Standard. In recent weeks he has waded through three-foot snow drifts, he said.
"I really wish people would shovel their sidewalks," he said.
Music helps soothe the irritation, he said, as he popped in earbuds and continued on his way.
U.S. Postal workers understand Luebke's frustration. Slick surfaces recently led to serious injuries for two Celina mail carriers.
"Two of our employees are out with broken bones after falling on customers' steps," postmaster Paul Joseph said this morning.
Employees are urged to use their own judgment when faced with hazardous walks, he said. However, they are devoted to their job.
"Since '78 we haven't missed a day ... even when we had minus-38 degrees wind chill this year," he said. "Our policy is to make every effort to deliver."
Joseph said about 1,000 packages of prescription drugs are delivered every day by the post office to Mercer County residents.
"That drives us," he said.
Unusual action was taken last month by a Fort Recovery area funeral home to accommodate this year's subzero temperatures, high winds and frequent snow storms.
"When it gets cold and the ground is frozen, it has to be thawed out so we can dig the graves," explained Ron Boeckman of Brockman-Boeckman Funeral Home.
A "hood" with propane tanks and burners is placed over the grave site for hours, often overnight, to warm up the ground, he said.
"We did quite a few like that in January," Boeckman said.
He's had to make other changes, too, because of the weather. Several committal services normally conducted at the gravesite took place in the funeral home or church to keep families and friends safe and dry.
"It's just been too cold," he said.
Yet no scheduled funeral services, Masses or visitations were delayed this winter, he said.
"We just keep going," Boeckman added.
Snow-covered and slick roadways can be a nightmare for seasoned drivers so the thought of rookies behind the wheel can be frightening.
The instructors at Capabilities Driving School in St. Marys disagree.
"It's the best thing," co-owner Karen Blumhorst said. "All our driving instructors say this is the best learning experience new drivers can have."
Parents, however, are a bit hesitant, she said.
"We've had a lot of cancellations, and we've canceled some lessons, too. Our spring classes are filling up fast," Blumhorst said.
Despite the inexperience, no drivers-in-training have crashed or slid into the ditch this winter, she said, adding there is a separate brake on the front-seat passenger side for the instructor.
"For some of our students, this is the first time they've gotten behind the wheel. Compound that with the snow and ice ... Well, thank goodness our instructors have brakes and long arms to take the wheel when necessary," she said.
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