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Minor crashes reported as winter storm drops snow on Mon Valley

| Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Monessen heavy machine operator Delmar Hepple loads up salt truck, as Parks departments Gigg Magatz spreads out the salt, in the back of the truck. At the streets departments garage on Parente Blvd and Huron Ave.. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent

As a winter storm smacked the Mon Valley with a 3- to 4-inch coating of snow, some emergency crews enjoyed a quiet day.

As of late Friday afternoon, Monessen police said they had not responded to any weather-related incidents, and the city's two fire departments weren't called out for any weather-related calls.

Municipal fire Chief Delmar Hepple said he thinks people were prepared for the snow.

“I think people had enough warning that it was coming,” Hepple said. “They've been talking about this for about a week now.

“I think that there were a lot of people that were out today that said ‘the heck with it' and just went home – which is good.”

People who made that decision made life easier fort Hepple, who also serves as a heavy machine operator for the Monessen Streets Department.

“It made things here at this job run a lot smoother,” Hepple said. “Clearing and salting the streets has been pretty smooth, so far. If people aren't out on the streets and we can get them cleared off, it helps keep things quiet on the fire department end.”

He added that no special preparations were made for the storm, which was a fast-moving clipper.

“If it was going to be a day of snow followed by another day of snow, then we would have taken extra precautions,” Hepple said. “All we really did was switch the trucks around so we know which will head out the door first.”

The Donora and Monongahela fire departments also reported quiet days.

“We had nothing at all,” Donora Fire Company Captain Tom Fronzaglio said. “It's been nice and calm ... very quiet.”

Other than a false alarm at the California Area High School campus, California firefighters weren't called into service, either.

Rostraver Township and Charleroi firefighters have Interstate 70 as part of their coverage areas, and each department responded to accidents on the highway.

Charleroi Chief Bob Whiten Jr. said crews responded to an accident involving two cars and a tractor-trailer.

“It looked as if the trailer slid and struck the other two vehicles,” Whiten said. “No one was injured.”

A fire hydrant didn't survive an accident in Rostraver Township at the intersection of Johnson Avenue and Tyrol Boulevard.

Police reported that the hydrant was knocked from its base on the side of the roadway, but no water was released.

Gallatin-Sunnyside firefighters were called into action when a tractor-trailer jackknifed around 10 a.m. on Gamble's Hill Road near Farm Lane – about the time the storm began bearing down on the Valley. The incident, shut down Route 136 near the Route 51 interchange in Forward Township.

Numerous incidents involving disabled vehicles, people pushing cars, and cars sliding off roadways were seen throughout the Valley.

On Friday, the Mid-Mon Valley Transit Authority issued an alert to riders, informing them that buses were delayed throughout the day.

Students in the area got an early start to their weekends as local school districts began dismissing students as early as noon.

Today will be the last of the severe winter weather. A chance of flurries is expected with a high of 23. The overnight low will be 5.

It will be partly sunny Sunday with a high of 30.

There will be chance of freezing rain Sunday night into Monday morning, turning to just rain with a high in the low 40s. The temperature is expected to rise into the low-50s Tuesday and Wednesday.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2667. Staff writer Chris Buckiley contributed to this report.

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