Starke County prepares for winter weather

NOW: Starke County prepares for winter weather

STARKE COUNTY, Ind. - Much of Michiana saw its first significant snowfall of this winter season on Monday. That meant Starke County got an opportunity to put its months of planning to the test. The Starke County Highway Department and the Knox Street Department each had their own challenges in battling Monday's snow. Both also wanted to make sure the public did its part in keeping the roads safe.

"The main thing is drive slowly," said Rik Ritzer, the Superintendent of the Starke County Highway Department. "Take your time. Leave early. If it's slick out, drive about five to ten miles below the speed limit, and be prepared. Be very cognizant of emergency vehicles working such as snow plows. Stay back from the snow plows. If you allow us to do our work, we'll get you to your work safely."

Knox Mayor Dennis Estok agreed, and said people need to watch where they park their cars for the night with more snow expected to come through Monday night as well.

"Let's make sure that they drive slow because we haven't had a chance to salt and sand," Estok said. Number two is, going into tonight, make sure if we get two inches or more to stay off the snow routes."

Knox city leaders said they'd be watching closely how much snow falls Monday night because during the day, Monday the City Street Department was short staffed. Two of their four fulltime truck drivers were quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19. The department was able to handle Monday's snow amounts with only two trucks and two drivers, but Mayor Estok said that may not be the case for Monday night's potential snow.

"If we get a lot of snow tonight (Monday night) and all that where we have to bring out all four trucks then we will probably have to go to some of our part-time drivers that we keep on hand," Estok said.

The Starke County Highway Department said it was impacted by the pandemic as well. It forced them to make most of their training for the year virtual and kept them from pairing new drivers with veteran ones, but officials said they have enough veteran drivers that it should not impede the snow removal efforts.

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