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home : news : news   May 27, 2016

4/4/2014 6:51:00 AM
Was winter really that bad?


Blame it on winter: Last winter, La Salle County had 100 felonies in the books by Feb. 11; this year No. 100 was filed on March 31.NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
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Blame it on winter: Last winter, La Salle County had 100 felonies in the books by Feb. 11; this year No. 100 was filed on March 31.

NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter



Congratulations, Mendota. You led all Illinois communities this winter with the most recorded snowfall.

The Associated Press reported Mendota’s dubious honor in reporting that winter isn’t exactly gone for good. According to AP, climatologist Jim Angel reported the statewide average temperature in March was 33.8 degrees. That’s 7 degrees below average and the eighth coldest March on record for Illinois.

Hooray for Mendota. Hooray for Illinois.

Yes, it was a severe winter with a painful mixture of cold, snow and wind.

But was winter as bad as we all thought?

A survey of Illinois Valley public officials and business leaders shows that not everybody was singing the winter blues.

ON THE PLUS SIDE ...
Too cold for criminals
Last winter, La Salle County had 100 felonies in the books by Feb. 11; this year No. 100 was filed on March 31. State’s attorney Brian Towne confirmed that slow-starting criminals have the county on pace for a 24-year low. “I was a deeply conflicted man,” Towne quipped. “Every morning I cleared my driveway with my teeth clenched, cursing winter. Then I’d get to my office, look at the tiny handful of arrest reports and wish it’d snow clear to Labor Day.”

Love those eagles
Homeowners and motorists might have cursed the snow, but nobody at Starved Rock or Matthiessen state parks is complaining. Starved Rock had enjoyed four straight Januarys with attendance over 100,000. Starved Rock also had its third best March with nearly 143,000 visitors, and Matthiessen had its best January attendance in seven years. “Eagle watching and ice climbing were the two best parts of this past winter,” said Terry Cross, president of Starved Rock Lodge.

No business like snow business
Tom “Mr. Plow” Riordan of Peru makes his living as a landscaper in the summer months and supplements his income by plowing in winter. And, boy, but did he supplement his income this year. There was one downside: Riordan wasn’t exactly well-rested this winter. He’s also a firefighter for Peru and Dalzell, and he had to dash off to plenty of weather-related crashes and carbon-monoxide alerts. “I didn’t get much done at home,” he said.

ON THE MINUS SIDE ...
School’s out for winter
We all know the schools used lots of snow days, but winter packed a bigger punch than you might think. Mark Cross, superintendent at Peru Elementary, counts himself lucky his district “only” used five emergency days, the most he’s ever burned in nine years at Peru. This will prove to be a costly winter, too. The bills still are trickling in, but Cross said he spent a fortune on snow removal and keeping the schools heated on days when it was 10-below or colder.

Buyer’s market, seller’s nightmare
If you needed a car or a bedroom set, this was your winter — if only because the retailers had trouble getting people in the door. At Turk Furniture, store manager Art Washkowiak said he observed major snow on eight of nine Saturdays, which are crucial days in the home furnishing trade. Schimmer automotive dealers reported a similar resurgence. “It seems like we’ve had winter forever, but over the past three weeks, business has been quite strong,” president Jeff Schimmer said.

Roads to destruction
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is no longer limited to summer construction season, as we were reminded when Interstate 80 traffic was cut down to one lane while workers filled potholes. How bad were the roads? Consider that King Tire in La Salle reported three times the average volume of tire repairs to municipal snow plows, let alone passenger cars. “There were a lot of broken belts and bad rims,” owner Greg Prey said. “It’s an unfortunate way to capitalize, but someone’s got to do it.”












Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, April 5, 2014
Article comment by: Anonymous1663

17.9" in Mendota? I'm sure someone has already caught this, but I'm extremely interested to see what they really got.

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