Officials prepare for winter

By Bob Robinson
STAR STAFF

   'Ole Man Winter' is just around the corner as local officials prepare for the winter months of December, January and February.
   Locally, January has been the coldest on record (minus 21 degrees in 1985), followed by February (minus 15 degrees in 1996) and December (minus 9 in 1962).
   The average high/low temperatures recorded at Tri-Cities Airport was 48.1/28.2 in December, 43.7/24.3 in January, and 48/26.8 in February.
   David Hotz, meterologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, said a winter weather prediction for Northeast Tennessee is yet to be developed.
   Last year, average precipitation was 3.39 inches in December, 3.23 inches in January and 3.44 inches in February, Hotz said.
   Carter County Road Supt. Jack Perkins said he is ready for a larger than normal snowfall.
   Supt. Perkins said he has 2,000 tons more chad this year than last to spread on the 840 miles of county rights-of-way and cemetery roads.
   In addition to the 7,000 tons of chad, Supt. Perkins has added two more trucks to the department's fleet.
   Perkins said 38 people will be assigned to the 12 big trucks, nine small trucks and two road graders. The trucks, equipped with snow blades, will clear county roads leading to Washington, Johnson and Unicoi counties and the North Carolina state line.
   Nationally, electric demand this winter is expected to fall by about one percent, compared with last winter's demand growth of 4.6 percent due to a slowing economy and expectations of a milder winter, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has forecast.
   Over the entire year of 2001, electric demand is expected to be lower than in the year 2000 because of a slow-growing economy, according to DOE.
   Phil Isaacs, general manager of the Elizabethton Electric System, said electric rates have not increased, locally, since October of 1997, the first one in 10 years.
   Electric usage and the cost to stay warm this winter will depend upon the type weather local residents experience, Isaacs added.
   The STAR was unable to reach Robert Laws, City of Elizabethton manager of street and sanitation, for comment in this article.