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Sunday April 21st, 2019 10:20AM

Snow kidding, we freak out over the 's' word

By Mitch Clarke Editor

A couple of weathermen mentioned the “s” word the other day, sending North Georgia into a typical frenzy.

Look, I don’t like snow. In fact, if I never again see a single snowflake, I’ll be content. I don’t know how people can live in places like Buffalo, New York, where they measure snowfall in feet, not inches. To be honest, there are a lot of people who live in places like Buffalo, New York, who don’t like snow, either, which explains why there are so many Northerners now live in Florida.

But I realize that living in a place like Gainesville, Georgia, means I’m going to see some snow every now and then. What I don’t understand, though, is the abject terror the “s” word sends through so many people.

Bad enough is the mad rush to the grocery store to stock up on bread and milk, which I assume means thousands of people are eating milk sandwiches while waiting on the snow. Why don’t people at least add eggs to the list so they make French toast?

More importantly, why do people feel the need to stock up before it snows? I’ve been through a few North Georgia winters, including one eight years ago, where the snow and ice stuck around for nearly a week. But I was never trapped inside my house, and I was never unable to go to the store.

What’s crazier is how quickly schools and businesses rush to close because it might snow. The University of North Georgia, where I teach part-time, announced at lunchtime Monday that it was closing the next day “in anticipation of severe winter weather.” Local school systems and businesses soon followed suit.

I get being cautious. I get that schools have thousands of children to protect. But isn’t closing before you even know what the weather will bring a bit of overkill?

I don’t like to be only of those guys who talks about how much better things were in the good ol’ days. But things were better in the good ol’ days. I don’t remember Early County ever announcing it would close a day before bad weather arrived. Instead, we had to get up early, tune in to WBBK-AM and wait with crossed fingers to hear Lonnie Chester, the school superintendent, tell us whether school was closed.

But Mr. Chester was a stickler and believed students should be in school, and unless it was a Buffalo-style blizzard, schools stayed open. “The buses are running” is what he always said on the radio, dashing our hopes for a snow day.

That system seemed to work well. I do remember a couple of instances where the buses weren’t running because the weather was bad enough to close school. 

But by waiting until morning, we didn’t miss a day of school when the weather was perfectly fine. I didn’t mind a snow day or two, but I didn’t want to miss a day when we didn’t need to, because in those days, we had to make up days that we missed, and sometimes we had to make them up on Saturdays, which I firmly believe violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

So schools and a bunch of businesses have closed here today. It’s raining lightly now, and it’s supposed to get brutally cold tonight. But the rain should move out by lunchtime. And I still haven’t seen a snowflake. 

Mr. Chester would not have approved.

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