Friday, February 22, 2008

No Surprises, But Some Relief

Wednesday was snow day number 11 for the girls. At this rate, they'll be in school until July. I have lots of work to do to get all my hours in at ESCO, but I have one lines to do, so I can get what I need.

Today we finally got some weather relief. The temperature rose to around 20 degrees, which may not sound that great except for the fact that temperatures had been in the single digits for most of the week. Lots of melting went on (or should I say off?) the roads, and when I went down to Cargill today for a meeting Mount Vernon Road and East Post Road were passable in two wheel drive. I still needed four wheel drive to navigate around the plant, but the rest was pretty decent. Even W-28 had only patchy areas of ice left. That will hopefully disappear in the next two days, as temperatures are expected to rise to around 32 degrees. It's a veritable heat wave!

However, it won't last. Another storm system is supposed to come in Monday night, with a chance of rain and snow. Hopefully, more rain than anything, but with my luck both Benton Community and Kirkwood will call off classes. Again.

This is getting monotonous!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Piling It On

Today was Benton Community Schools snow day number 10. The snow just keeps piling up and piling up and piling up. And it isn't always falling snow that's the problem. Lately it's been blowing and drifting snow. If you go to (channel 9 - HA!) you'll see articles that they've had on the news about how bad the Benton County roads get when the wind picks up. If you read yesterday's blog, you know that I was stranded at home again, snowed in. Carl, either bravely or foolishly, decided to go into work. He left at 5:30 AM and didn't get to his office until 7:30 AM, because he'd tried to plow his way through a drift on one of the north-south roads (the Shellsburg road) leading out of Atkins, and he got the pickup hung up and stuck. It took him two hours to dig himself out and then creep his way into Cedar Rapids. When he came home last night, only one lane of our two-lane road (W-28) was open, and just barely at that. On last night's news they made a deal out of the fact that all three of the north-south roads leading out of Atkins were blocked. I wonder who from KCRG lives out here. Some KCRG employee probably bought a house out in the Ralston addition last summer and is now regretting it, but at least whoever it is gets an easy story to report.

Anyway. Last night Carl and I decided that it would be better to try to get to work later (i.e. once it was light outside) than not at all, so we told the girls that we were both going to work today, but Carl was driving both of us in. We went over the ground rules (again) and had Mary choose what she wanted for lunch so that she'd know how much insulin to take, and then we left. W-28 hadn't improved much - it was still one lane, and where the road was open the pavement was snowpacked and icy. Carl drove slowly and carefully (and in four wheel drive) until we got closer to the city, then the roads cleared up a little and we could go in two wheel drive. That is, until we got to Blairs Ferry Road, the street that takes me to work in Marion. That was as bad as W-28, worse actually because there was lots of traffic on it. Carl put the pickup back into four wheel drive and managed to deliver me safely to work.

Coming home was better. The main highways were, for all intents and purposes, clear. Blairs Ferry and W-28 still stank, but at least the plows had widened W-28 back to two lanes. The bad news? The wind is supposed to pick up again after midnight, and the drifting problems will start all over again. Already tonight Benton Community Schools has declared a two hour late start for tomorrow morning. I wonder if that will degrade to snow day number 11. I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Number Nine

Before I start into my diatribe about the number nine, I want to point out that my profile has been updated. This happened because my husband switched our e-mail accounts, and I had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get my Google account lined up with his Google account because that's where the new e-mail is.


So what's up with the number nine? Well, normally not much. The most notoriety nine has gotten was back when I was little and The Beatles did some sort of something where if you played a record backwards you could hear someone saying "number nine" in a really freaky voice. You can't do that now-a-days unless you have an old fashioned record player and the old vinyl album. You can't exactly spin a CD backwards, now can you?

But right now nine has me really frustrated. Why? Because nine is the number of snow days that Benton Community Schools has had this year. NINE!! We've had somewhere around 55 inches of snow, with lots of blowing and drifting. Needless to say getting out of my little rural town has been something of a challenge. We haven't been to church in two weeks because we couldn't get out, and I've had to stay home from work almost every time the girls have had school delayed or cancelled. Both Carl and I are very frustrated by the weather, and I can only imagine how my boss and co-workers must feel. I know it's not my fault, but I still feel guilty for not getting to work when everyone else did. Hannah's frustrated, because she likes school and she's not looking forward to classes extending into June. Mary loves the snow days, but it's a pretty safe bet that she'll be frustrated when she realizes how far into the summer the school year will go.

Meanwhile, here I am again, stuck at home because of the weather. Also, Kirkwood Community College is closed, so I'll miss my Monday night Estimating class again. I hope Jim comes up with a way for us to catch up, or else I won't be able to graduate. All in all, the weather really has me down. I can't go to school, I can't go to work, I can't go anywhere, period. Truth is, all I want to do right now is sit on the sofa and cry.

Sorry to bummer all of you readers out. Hopefully spring will come soon, and things will return to normal. Except they're predicting excessive flooding when the snow melts.

Yip yip yahoo.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Now What Did I Do?

Every once in a while, something comes up that you just can't stay quiet about. Such is the case with the Benton Community school board. They've done some weird things recently, including re-admitting some students that were expelled according to the school's "zero tolerance" policy. But the thing that got me wound up was when they "voted" to hire a new attorney. It's a long article, and the part about the attorney is the last half of the article, but I've posted a link to it here: (you may have to cut and paste this link into your browser)

Anyway. Their shenanigans prompted me to write a letter to the editor of the South Benton Star-Press, and it got published. There's no link to it, so I'm including it below. It goes like this:

I have a question for the Benton Community Schools Board of Directors:

What is UP with you people?

I ask this question in light of the article in the South Benton Star-Press (30 Jan) where the board "discussed" hiring a new attorney. I use the word "discussed" loosely, because it didn't really sound like a discussion at all. The impression received from the article is that five members of the board had met informally and decided to choose a new attorney. Two members of the board were not notified of these informal meetings (which I assume were probably by phone or e-mail). Then the five members, primarily Board President Schanbacher and Vice President Harrington, defended this decision by declaring it their "right" to do so. Ms. Schanbacher is quoted as saying "... we are in the realm of ourselves to change legal counsel." (emphasis added).While it may be true that the board can change their legal counsel, the manner in which this change was made is highly irregular. Normally, a motion is made during an open meeting to replace counsel, then research is done with the knowledge of the entire board and several firms are chosen for review. The board then chooses from among the options, and the best firm is chosen by a majority of the entire board. To have one person choose a new law firm and then not inform all parties involved in the decision making process smacks of conspiracy and imperiousness. Is this the impression that the board wishes to leave with the parents and taxpayers of the Benton Community School District? I certainly hope not, but given the information and quotes from the article it would seem so. When board members go on the defensive, stating "it's our right" "this is the board's attorney" "it's in our realm" and "the president shouldn't have to call you on matters like this", the people of the school district sense a definite problem within the board, and especially in the leadership.

President Schanbacher is quoted in the article as saying, "Change is sometimes a good thing. ... maybe a new fresh perspective on what has happened could be something that would definitely help the board out."

Very true. But perhaps the change shouldn't be with the legal counsel. Maybe it should be with the board when the next election cycle comes around.

Submitted by:Nancy A, BodeAtkins, IA

WELL!!! You'd think I'd just have written the Magna Carta, given the response I've received about this. I've had cards, e-mails and phone calls all praising my "well written article". "You've hit the nail on the head", a couple of other people told me. (At this point, you should imagine me digging my toe into the dirt saying, "Aw, shucks!") At the last Community Club meeting, Carl had several people tell him that they agreed with my letter. All these accolades are rather overwhelming, considering the only thing I did was tell the truth in a letter. But apparently folks around here felt the same way I did, and I just managed to be the one who was chosen to have their words put in the newspaper. I've not had one negative comment (yet) although I wait with trepidation for the upcoming edition of the paper on Thursday. I wonder if I've opened a can of worms with this letter. If I have, I can only pray that good will come of it, because all I did was tell the truth. I mean, isn't the truth supposed to set you free?

Let's hope so.