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With reportedly hundreds still without power in Colton, school opens as warming center

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COLTON - This weekend’s ice storm is still having plenty of after effects on Colton residents, with over 600 residents of the municipality still without power.

Some across Northern New York have been comparing the recent weather phenomenon to the ice storm of 1998, including Colton Fire Chief Bill Smith.

“It was similar to 1998 and was the same type of scenario,” Mr. Smith said. “We pretty much manned the station all night Saturday, all day Sunday, up until 1 a.m. Monday. Some of us live nearby so we were ready to go.

“For the first 24 or 26 hours we had the whole crew at the station. We left on Sunday at about 3 p.m. and people went home to get a couple hours of sleep before more work,” he noted

Mr. Smith added that South Colton got hit harder by the storm than did other parts of the town.

“Most of our work was clearing trees that were leaning over into the roads. We had to let the plows continue to do their job,” he said. “I’m very proud of the department and the job that they did and the town and county as a whole. The state as a whole put in hours upon hours. I think working as a team made it a lot better than it could have been. My hats go off to everyone involved.

I also thank the community for being patient and they seemed very thankful.”

As of mid-afternoon Monday, 615 people in the town were still without power, according to St. Lawrence County Planning Office Grant Manager Heidi Ames.

This figure led to the opening of a warming center and shelter for the community at Colton-Pierrepont Central School at noon Monday. The early hours were slow at the shelter.

The opening of the building to the community was coordinated between School Superintendent Joseph A. Kardash, Principal Jim Nee, Mr. Zimmerman, and St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire.

“Keith Zimmerman and Karen St. Hilaire had asked Mr. Kardash to make our school available as a warming site, a warming center for people without power,” Mr. Nee said. “I know that Mr. Zimmerman is going to get back in touch with me (later) to determine whether or not it needs to remain open as a warming center or possibly an overnight shelter. So I am waiting to hear back from him to determine how we proceed at this point.”

A warming center also opened at the Gouverneur High School at 9 a.m. Monday, while the Salvation Army served food and beverages to those at the center.

In Colton, nurses, mental health counselors, and psychologists were on hand in the afternoon.

Mr. Nee and Mr. Kardash were outspoken in their praise of town and county officials efforts.

“I know our Colton fire department has done a great job going throughout the area, checking on residents to see how they were doing,” Mr. Nee said.

“The proactive collaboration between the county, town, and employees within our school district is inspirational,” Mr. Kardash added. “We have seen public servants and volunteers dedicating incredible time and resources in the name of public safety. This helpful atmosphere is a great strength of the north country. Hopefully we all pull through this holiday season together safely.”

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