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Snow Stalls Schools, Companies

The first snowfall of the season closes schools and keeps commuters home.

Last Wednesday, Vienna resident and Marshall High School sophomore Shelley Newhouse went to school with her pajamas inside out. Doing this strengthens the likelihood that a snow day will happen the following day, Newhouse said.

Area students as well as their parents awoke last Thursday to the area's first snowfall, affecting traffic and work. Fairfax County public schools closed Thursday and Friday, and companies encouraged employees to stay home and avoid the roads.

Vienna received about six inches of snow from the storm, which also affected the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states as it trailed upward.

But besides the closing of schools and the slippery roads, the Town of Vienna encountered a relatively quiet day, accident and mishap-wise.

"It went very well," said Dennis W. King, Vienna's public works director, when asked how the department faced the first snow of the season. The first crews of snow plows started around midnight and were staggered with four-hour shifts. The remaining crews to plow, salt and sand Vienna's 140 miles of lanes were out by 4 a.m.

Fifty to 60 people were involved in the town's snow clearing, including employees with the public works department and the park and recreation department, and snow plow drivers. Crews finished their work around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.

"As far as I know, we're the first jurisdiction to finish clearing every year," King said.

King said they had gotten calls from residents about trash and recycling pickups, which were to resume schedule once the snow is cleared.

"They could slip and injure themselves," King said, of those picking up trash.

The Vienna Police also reported a quiet day, with no increase in accidents or power outages. Although he couldn't say why the police had a quiet day, he thought it could have been because people stayed home.

"We really got off well. I can't think of anything I could absolutely say was snow-related," said Vienna Police captain Johnny Price. "I can't blame the snow for anything this time around."

Even drivers who were out on the roads said that while drivers should be careful, the snow was nothing to worry about.

"Roads are no problem, as long as you take your time," said Oakton resident Brian Choate as he was heading to the Vienna Metro station.

CUE bus driver Carl Rich agreed. He had been out driving for four hours, and while his busload was lower than usual because George Mason University was closed, he said the roads were getting better.

"And I'm on time, too," Rich said.

In anticipating the snowfall, many locals were well-prepared. At Magruder’s off Maple Avenue, customers rushed to the grocery store to buy bread and milk.

About 25 to 30 percent more customers were here before the snow storm, said store manager John Miller.