County and school officials were preparing Thursday as forecasters said the area could see its first bout of snow in 2017 overnight and into Friday.
County Road Foreman Mark Ledbetter told the Log Cabin Democrat the department had its gear “up and ready to go” in the event of inclement weather.
“We’re ready for whatever it brings us,” he said. “We’ve got two big spreader trucks with snowplows on the front and four road graders that break off the snow. We don’t have enough equipment or manpower to cover the whole county but we try to keep the main thoroughfares open, try to get people to the highway safely.”
Ledbetter said he and his crew would likely “incur some overtime” as they would be watching the weather all night so they could start sanding the roads as soon as snow starts falling.
“This stuff usually happens in the late night hours and we try to get out ahead of it,” Ledbetter said. “We’ll watch it all night.”
Even with sanding the roads, Ledbetter said people are safer staying off the streets in inclement weather.
“I would advise them to stay off the road unless absolutely necessary,” he said.
In regards to possible inclement weather, Conway Public Schools Communication Specialist Heather Kendrick said the best place for parents, students and faculty to receive notification of school closing is on the Conway Schools mobile app, which can be downloaded on iTunes or Google Play.
“Mobile app users will know first,” she said. “We will also call our parents using our automated calling system and post the information on Twitter and Facebook, as well as local news stations.”
Kendrick said the district normally tries to make the call to dismiss school by 5 a.m.
“We have had to dismiss early once when winter weather moved into our area quickly and we needed to get our students home safely before the end of the school day,” she said. “That is not common. Most of the time when we cancel school for inclement weather, we make the call before school early that morning.”
The biggest factor in deciding whether or not to close school, Kendrick said, is the school community.
“The safety of our students, as well as our staff and parents, is always our most important concern,” she said. “If we do not believe the roads throughout the district are safe to drive on, for our buses or our parents, we will not have school.”
Kendrick said a reminder of the inclement weather policy was sent through the school’s app Wednesday.
The policy states that if the district is still having school, administrators will not make any type of announcement, that “no news is good news.”
“If we have to close school, we will make-up the days according to the approved schedule on the 2016-17 School Calendar,” the policy reads.
The policy also states that “if conditions warrant,” the school may open with a two-hour delay. If that happens, everything, including bus schedules, will be moved back exactly two hours. It also states that “if conditions warrant,” Conway might still have school, but only run specific bus routes using its school bus snow routes.
As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service of Little Rock had Faulkner County under a winter weather advisory until 3 p.m. Friday and was calling for a 70 percent chance of snow.