Sheriff explains what a state of emergency would mean

January 27, 2014

Earlier today Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole put out a request asking people to continue to stay off the roads, because the Mason County Road Commission was pulling its vehicles off of secondary roads so its drivers could keep up with state highways and primary roads. He also stated that the county had not ruled out declaring a state of emergency.

Several readers have asked what a state of emergency would mean.

“A state of emergency would free up resources from a state-wide level that we wouldn’t have access to,” Cole said. “It would also allow law enforcement to ticket people for being on the roads, if it came to that.” However, Cole said, as of 3:30 p.m. Monday, requiring people to stay off the roads was not happening, instead he is just requesting people cooperate the best they can.

“We want people to understand that by staying off the roads, this allows the road commission to do its job more safely. It also decreases the odds of there being traffic related crashes. In these conditions, it is very unlikely that law enforcement, fire or EMS can respond to a lot of the areas around the county.”

Only the county chairman, Chuck Lange, can declare a state of emergency. We have been told that the county commissioners have been in conversations today discussing the issue, along with County Administrator Fabian Knizacky, Sheriff Cole and Mason County Road Commission Manager/Director Wayne Schoonover.

Cole said emergency crews will do their best to get to the call. Over the weekend, Riverton Fire Chief Joe Cooper used his personal vehicle to snowplow a path four miles so his personnel and the ambulance crew could get to a residence.

Cole said so far law enforcement has been able to keep up on calls. He attributes much of that to people cooperating with his request to stay off the roads.