Sheriff clarifies snow emergency level stance in open letter to citizens


To the Editor:
I apologize for not putting out my stance on snow emergency levels in Wood County earlier.
I trust the citizens of Wood County to use common sense when driving. I also trust employers to use
common sense on when they should close their businesses.
The local news stations do an excellent job of reporting road conditions. With the live video, latest
radar and satellite images people can make very informed decisions whether they should travel. Numerous
weather apps are also helpful.
The Ohio Revised Code gives the sheriff the authority to close the roads. The three levels are not in the
law. Even though the levels are not part of the law, the levels are often used for a major storm where
the closing of the roads is likely.
The intent of the levels is to allow people to prepare for potential closure of roads (level 1 or level
2) then the actual closure level 3.
After the storm lessons and conditions get better the lower levels allow the citizens to know the roads
are getting better. If the storm is not intense enough that the likely hood of needing to close the
roads there is not a need for the levels. The levels were not intended for every snow event.
During Saturday’s storm all of the main roads were passable by simply driving slower. We did not have
whiteout conditions. My deputies were continually updating me. I personally went out multiple times
throughout the snow event to check the road conditions. I also met with the county highway garage.
The highway garage and my deputies believed we would not need to close the roads for this storm. We are
very fortunate in Wood County that our highway garage plows snow 24/7 when needed. This is not the case
with all counties.
The Ohio Department of Transportation also had numerous plow trucks clearing their roads. In addition,
all cities, villages and townships have plows. Of course, when main roads are not passable, or whiteout
conditions exist or when ODOT, county highway garage, or cities stop plowing due to poor conditions I
will declare a level 3 and close all the roads.
I hope this clarifies my thought processes regarding snow level emergencies for the citizens of Wood
Mark Wasylyshyn
Wood County Sheriff

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