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Winter Shuts Down Schools, Public Services Across State

At least two counties have declared emergencies because of the sub-zero cold snap that’s swept the state, and almost every school in Michigan is expected to remain closed for a second day.

The Michigan Department of Transportation says at least 25 hundred plows have been deployed to clear state highways and local roads. Governor Rick Snyder made a stop by an operations center in Detroit that’s monitoring road conditions. He says people who can’t sit out the cold spell should take it very slow and careful on the roads that may be cleared, but are still icy.

State offices are expected to re-open tomorrow after a one-day shutdown. But most schools will remain closed for a second day.  

Several school districts up north have already announced plans to remain closed Tuesday – including schools from Leelanau County and Traverse City south to Mason County and Ludington.

Wind chills are expected to be 25-to-35 degrees below zero by morning. That’s dangerously cold – says Manistee Area Public Schools Superintendent John Chandler.

He worries about kids walking to school and waiting for a bus Tuesday but expects it should be the last day school will be out.

“Wednesday looks like it’s going to be okay,” says Chandler. “We will make that call tomorrow, but it appears it’s going to warm up – and I say that tongue and cheek. Warm up, meaning it’s going to be somewhere closer to zero than negative-20.”

Public bus services also came to a halt in Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Benzie Counties today.

It was ironic timing for John Flesher in Traverse City. He took the bus for the first time this morning – to beat the bitter cold. But he’ll have to walk home.

"I have had some offers from friends to pick me up and carry me home," says the Associated Press Reporter. "I got those after I put a posting on Facebook about it. But, unless I lose heart, I’m just going to try to walk.”

Flesher typically walks to-and-from work. It’s less than a mile.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.