Front page history: Schools out for weeks after big snow of ‘78

Published 8:19 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An abundance of snowfall and constant freezing temperatures in Central Kentucky 41 years ago caused area schools to close for several weeks in a row. Schools in five area districts remained closed even longer.

This day in 1978 was the first day back to school for students, faculty and staff in Boyle, Garrard and Lincoln County school districts since the schools closed due to the weather on Jan. 6.

Danville and Harrodsburg schools had already resumed classes according to The Advocate-Messenger archives.

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The temperature on this day 41 years ago was officially 5 degrees above zero, but a downtown thermometer registered at zero. Unofficial readings taken that morning showed temperatures as low as 16 to 20 below zero which caused school buses to have problems starting.

The extreme cold, ice and slippery roads caused schools in Mercer, Burgin, Casey, Marion and Washington to remain closed.

On the first day back to school, Superintendent Roy Camic said attendance wasn’t very good, but he praised the cooperation of the parents who had taken their children to the main roads so that buses could pick them up in some parts of the county.

“We need to go back in school,” after having been out for starting the fifth week,” Camic said. That morning, though, three buses got stuck in snow drifts and had to be pulled out by wreckers; other bus drivers had a hard time at the bus turnarounds; and two buses wouldn’t even start, Camic said.

The biggest problem in getting students to school in buses was the extreme cold, which made it difficult to keep the children warm who were riding the buses.

Also, there were several roads that the bus drivers didn’t try to travel on, Camic said. But those families had been informed and asked to have their children to wait for buses at a specified pickup location.

Officers with the Danville Police and Boyle Sheriff’s Office were still kept busy with traffic accidents because of the bad roads. In one day, they investigated at least 10 wrecks.

During January the Danville-Boyle County Rescue Squad reported that it made 164 regular runs, in addition to 75 weather-related calls for aid for a total of 239 calls. The weather runs included providing food and medicine to a snowbound persons and transportation of medical and other personnel to and from work.

Garrard County Schools superintendent Earl Shaw said he was very pleased with the 90 percent attendance that morning. He added that everyone seemed to be glad to be back at school.

Lincoln County director of pupil personal Larry Lewis estimated they had between 80 to 85 percent attendance.

The national weather scene was also reporting more blizzards hitting the northeast. Residents in the Chicago area experienced the second snow storm within 12 days. A state of emergency was declared across Southern New England and the National Guard was called out.