With the exception of a few vital departments, Platte County closed for business Monday due to concerns about snowy roads and hazardous driving conditions.
The decision to close, said presiding commissioner Jason Brown, was split between himself, for the county’s administrative operations, and Judge Lee Hull, for the county’s courthouse operations.
Brown said that when he awoke shortly after 5 a.m., it was snowing, “bitterly, brutally cold” and the news from the public works department was that the county’s plows were struggling to keep up with mounting snowfall totals.
Because the statutes require that a new budget be published by the end of the month, Brown said he called county auditor Kevin Robinson about a budget meeting set for Monday and learned that it could be postponed until later in the week.
“(Closing was) in the best interest of safety and common sense,” said Brown. “We didn’t have anything that absolutely couldn’t wait one day.”
Brown said that elected officials are responsible for their own departments, but that by 7 a.m., all of them had been notified of the closing and the county’s web site had been updated as well.
“We were trying not to call too early,” said Brown. “At the same time, I wanted to get as much notification out as possible to keep the greatest number of folks off the road trying to drive in.”
Brown said that county snow workers as well as employees of the sheriff’s office and jail were among the few that did go to work as scheduled.
Asked how the closing would affect the employees’ paychecks, Brown responded, “I don’t think we docked anybody’s pay for having the building closed yesterday.”
The snow stopped and restarted at various times throughout the day. The air temperature was in the 20s. By the following morning, weather officials said seven inches of snow had fallen at KCI Airport.
Some residents did not agree with the county’s decision, however. Clint Rhodes, who did make it in to his job at a Platte City auto repair shop, expressed annoyance that taxpayer dollars were being used to fund a day off for some county employees.
“Everybody else has to go to work,” he said. “Why can’t the county?”
The topic became a popular one for discussion on the Facebook page of Landmark publisher Ivan Foley. The vast majority of those posting ridiculed the county for the decision to close.
Rhodes was one of those commenting on Facebook. Another was Larry Van Fosson, another Platte County resident.
“What a bunch of wusses!!! The real world people have to work regardless! And they want us to trust them??? I just dunno,” Van Fosson posted.