By LARRY M. JONES
The recent spell of extended cold weather with sleet and ice covering our roads took quite a toll on the folks of Parker County. It didn’t have too much of an effect on old guys like me who, for the most part, just sat around the fire and did a whole lot of nothing.
Helen and I had the foresight to lay in ample provisions prior to the storm. I was able to read the newspapers via the e-editions. I didn’t have to go to work (other than feed my cows), and my Social Security check was still sent straight to the bank, electronically.
I felt sorry for the ones who did have to get out and brave the icy, hazardous conditions. These included law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS personnel and road crews trying to keep traffic at least partially flowing. Especially hard hit were those who don’t get paid if they don’t work. Hourly workers, waitresses depending on tips, self-employed entrepreneurs and small business owners are especially hard hit by periods of inclement weather. In addition, I also felt sorry for the critters that had to endure these harsh conditions. My cows seemed so pitiful as they stood behind whatever windbreak was available with their backs humped up and their round steaks pointed into the wind. I’m sure the wildlife suffered even worse from hunger and the cold.
During wet ice storms like this last one, it is common for overhead power lines to collapse from heavy ice accumulation. I didn’t see any significant reports of such in our area, but one consequence of this last storm, although not commonly recognized, was damage to our roads. Here in North Texas we are fortunate that we normally do not have the extreme freezing temperatures that are so hard on roads, but we still have our fair share of problems. Although I am certainly no expert on the subject, I saw significant damage to our roads because of this last storm. Pot holes are showing up like roofers following a hailstorm. Water from melting ice slowly leaks into cracks and subsequent hard freezing will fracture the asphalt surface causing “chug holes,” as we used to call them. In addition to pot holes, the alternating freezing or slushy conditions wreaks havoc on the shoulders or edges of the pavement causing sharp and dangerous drop-offs. Repairing this winter damage will be expensive and time consuming.
Aside from Weatherford’s ever-increasing traffic problems, for the most part we have excellent roads throughout Parker County. In addition, our county road crews do a great job maintaining them, as does TxDOT in caring for the state roads. These paved roads are a far cry and a welcome relief from the primitive roads around the county that I saw as a child. On these, you could get stuck in mud, loose sand, ice, snow or become high-centered because of deep ruts, and I’m only referring to the 5-mile stretch between my house and Brock.
Compared to dirt roads, I’ll take cold weather bumps and potholes in the asphalt any day.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to email@example.com.