The line between essential and nonessential work becomes a lot less blurred for cities when the mercury drops to brutally cold temperatures.
City and county officials across the county started to weigh the importance of daily functions early Monday. Today, many of them have elected to keep as many employees as possible indoors.
The Lorain County Justice Center Elyria Public Library and Lorain County Board of Elections are closed today. The Lorain County Administration Building is closed, but 24-hour operation departments — including Lorain County 911, the Golden Acres Nursing Facility, the Charles Berry Bridge and the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security — are to report for work as usual.
Trash collection also has been suspended.
“It’s a combination of the weather, Republic (Services) closing the landfill and our vehicles. The hydraulic systems just don’t respond well in this cold weather,” said Elyria Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka about the city’s trash collection delaying pickup for a day.
Elyria employees are not being told to stay home, but many who work outdoor activities — meter reading and park maintenance — are being diverted to indoor work where possible.
“They won’t be going outside to the elements,” she said. “We will find something for them to do.”
North Ridgeville Mayor Dave Gillock said it wasn’t the city’s choice to delay trash pick-up. That was all on Republic, which chose to keep their employees off the road.
While he understands the life-threatening nature of the cold, he also said the city can’t and won’t shut down because of weather.
“We need our employees to work even harder because of the weather,” he said. “There is not a lot we can do to curtail services. Residents need us to be here.”
While cities like Vermilion and Elyria canceled City Council meetings that were supposed to be held Monday night, it was business as usual in North Ridgeville and Lorain.
“Bundle up and deal with it,” Gillock said. “Don’t be out if you don’t have to be. But this is Ohio, and it’s January — it’s going to be cold.”
Siwierka said city employees brought as much equipment inside as possible Monday and will determine what outdoors projects will be done today as they happen. There already have been a number of water main breaks due to expanding and contracting concrete putting pressure on the lines. Crews will do repairs as needed.
Columbia Gas crews were on the scene of a gas leak called in about 6 p.m. Monday in the Chestnut Commons neighborhood off state Route 57, according to Assistant Safety Service Director Bruce Shade. At 10:30 p.m., Shade said crews were still searching for the source of the leak, but no evacuations were necessary.
Reporter Evan Goodenow contributed to this story.