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Roads clear for now

Traveling conditions throughout Lawrence County have improved, but icy patches remain on many roads as the snow melted and refroze over night.

The snowfall and icy roads kept maintenance crews from the Ohio Department of Transportation busy Wednesday and Thursday.

Representatives for ODOT said that the highways and state roads are mostly clear today and that the new salt worked well.

"I was quite pleased with the brine salt," said Cecil Townsend, county manager at ODOT's Ironton garage. "Putting the brine down (first) gives you the opportunity to get the trucks out before you get a freeze over."

Townsend said it has been a long two days as some employees worked nearly 36 hours straight. ODOT will continue to plow back snow drifts and salt icy patches throughout the day today, he said.

"The highways are reasonably clear, but it will be cold again tonight and I suggest that everyone be careful after the temperatures fall back down," he said.

The slick conditions also made sure local towing companies had plenty of business.

J & M Towing in Coal Grove stayed busy, towing many people out of the median and off the bridges on U.S. 52. The company even got into the Christmas spirit by towing a couple of cars for free.

Scott Morgan, whose family owns the business, said that they could not leave anyone stranded just because they did not have the money to pay a tow bill.

"It is just how dad does it," he said of his father's generosity toward those that truly need it. "It comes back to you in the long run. They remember you."

Overall, the Ohio State Highway Patrol saw a big improvement in conditions Thursday night.

"It has been much quieter overnight compared to the night before," Lt. Carl Roark, post commander of the OSHP Ironton Post 44, said. "We have only had two crashes since midnight Thursday."

After the snow began to fall Wednesday evening, the patrol was called out on six crashes and responded to 13 more on Thursday, he said.

"Most of the roads are clear but there are a few icy spots," he said. "It looks like it is supposed to warm up this weekend."

All area schools were closed again today.

This poses new problems for area emergency departments as SEOEMS responded to at least one injury from sleigh riding. Local police departments were swamped with calls about children throwing snowballs at cars.

"We received 50 to 100 calls on snowballers alone," Ironton Police Chief Bill Garland said.

The IPD had seven pages of police logs from Thursday when a normal day accounts for only two or three pages. In addition to the normal fender-benders associated with icy conditions, they also received a few calls about people riding four-wheelers in the city, he said.

In Coal Grove, sleigh riders knocked down decorations in Paul Porter Park.

Lights were pulled loose from the handrail, reindeer were knocked over and they ran into the ginger bread house, Mayor Tom McKnight said

"People should be proud of this but some kids have to come tear this stuff up," he said.

Although it appeared that more snow accumulated, Meteorologist Dan Bartholf of the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va. said the Ashland-Ironton area officially received four inches.

Flurries are expected over the weekend and there is a chance of snow or rain on Tuesday, but it is to soon to predict how much, he said.