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Next winter, there will likely come a morning in Adams County when the latest overnight snowfall has been whipped into drifts that reach six feet in depth in places and extend over farm fields and roadways alike. The northwesterly wind, with gusts up to 50 mph, will drop wind chill factors to 30 degrees below zero. At times, visibility will become non-existent as the blowing snow is driven so strongly, it appears to be coming from every direction at once.
At a time like this, the sheriff’s department will issue a Level 4 winter travel emergency, the highest level of weather advisory established by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, restricting travel to emergency management workers only. All area schools will cancel classes for the day in deference to the safety of their students, and residents will be advised to refrain from all travel, including driving to and from work.
For all intents and purposes, movement in the county will come to a standstill for everyone.
Everyone, that is, except the county’s highway department workers, whose job it is to brave those severe elements and clear the county’s roadways of the mountains of snow so travel can resume and life can begin to return to normal.
Mark Mitchel has seen this scenario before. For 37 years, Mitchel dealt with winter’s extremes first -hand while working for the Adams County Highway Department. But this coming winter will be different. Having retired as its superintendent after nearly eight years at the helm, Mitchel will instead experience the winter storm for the first time in nearly four decades from the warmth and comfort of his own home.
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