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Highland Lakes cities, counties prep for threat of icy conditions

Burnet County dispatched sand truck crews Jan. 15 to areas where icy roadways could pose a risk to motorists. Courtesy photo

Burnet County dispatched sand truck crews Jan. 15 to areas where icy roadways could pose a risk to motorists. Courtesy photo

UPDATE: City of Burnet offices closed Jan. 16.

UPDATE: Burnet CISD, Marble Falls ISD, Llano ISD, and Faith Academy of Marble Falls cancel classes Jan. 16.

UPDATE: As of 4:30 p.m., Burnet County officials opted to close county offices and services on Jan. 16 due to the potential for hazardous travel conditions.



SPICEWOOD —  As a wintry mix of cold and precipitation looms in the Highland Lakes’s immediate future, county and city officials are launching efforts to keep roads safe, monitor travel warnings, and potentially close offices.

Severe weather reports on Jan. 15 prompted Burnet County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Don Dockery to dispatch sand truck crews to several areas, including the CR 410 bridge over Alligator Creek and the CR 404 Grid Iron Bridge in his precinct.

“It’s a pre-emptive strike. We’re trying to do what we can to prepare these roadways,” Dockery said. “Unfortunately,  (the severe weather) will hit in the middle of the night.”

“We’ll be out early in the morning trying to assess the situation for the school district,” Dockery added. “We try to be their eyes on the road when we get inclement weather conditions.”

As of 4 p.m. Jan. 15, Llano County officials announced county offices will be closed Jan. 16 as will city offices for Llano and Sunrise Beach Village. Marble Falls city officials will not open their offices until 10 a.m. The Pedernales Electric Cooperative Board of Directors’ meeting scheduled for Jan. 16 has been moved to Jan. 19 with time yet to be determined.

Ron Anderson of the Llano County Emergency Management Office urged people to stay off the roads during the inclement weather. He added that Llano County will issue closing and delay updates through its social media outlets and emergency notification system.

In Burnet County officials have announced a two-hour delay of office openings Jan. 16.

However, depending on conditions, the status of office and service availability could change.

“Based on how things look and how it looks closer to that time and able to observe conditions and have even better predictions, it could be that we close for the entire day,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said.

As a result of the forecast, some services have already been postponed, delayed, or moved, such as 33rd Judicial District Court jury duty and some Marble Falls Independent School District extracurricular activities.

School officials will rely on reports on the ground to determine the status of delays, postponements, and cancelations of schools in Blanco, Burnet, and Llano counties.

At the height of the severe weather warning Jan. 15, municipal and city offices were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Even so, Llano city leaders continued monitoring conditions with emergency management officials and will likely make a decision about the opening of municipal offices by mid-afternoon.

“We want to have our offices available to serve the public, but at the same time, we want the staff to be safe,”  Llano City Manager Scott Edmondson said. “I’m contacting the department heads by text. If the reports stay like it is, we’re telling them just don’t get out of your house if you don’t have to.”

However, potential issues with infrastructure related to freezing temperatures have hastened the city to schedule an on-call crew.

“We do have staff that’s on-call all the time,” Edmondson said. “If there’s a problem, they’ll address the situation. The number one deal would be water lines.”

Residents are encouraged to call the Llano County Sheriff’s Office at (325) 247-5767 with non-emergency issues, and dispatchers will contact the appropriate city staff member for assistance.

In Burnet County, residents can call the sheriff’s office at (512) 756-8080 to report issues.

“Please do not call 9-1-1 unless it’s an emergency,” Oakley said. “I encourage people not to drive unless it’s an absolute necessity. If you must, to ensure you get there, drive slow.

“Luckily, we live in a day and age where technology allows for predicting things like this,” Oakley added. “We just need to use those tools to our advantage to ensure public safety.”