Hudson Valley closes twice in less than a week

A series of storms at Hudson Valley last week kept the campus workers busy. Photo by Laura Pierson. JPG

Tyler McNeil

Creative Editor

One over hyped storm on Tuesday, another fresh blanket on Friday and the biggest storm of the week on Sunday night led to the college closing twice and growing piles of snow on campus.

“When I when I woke up at first I was like, ‘Why is it even closed?’ and then I saw why it was closed only a few hours later,” said Lindsay Hecker, a dental hygiene major who lives on Stowe Ave. about the Tuesday Jan. 27 cancellation.

In addition to class cancellations, the storms brought towings, heavy wind and difficulties in commute for many students.

Prior to cancellation, Public Safety and the Physical Plant are responsible for monitoring weather conditions on local roadways and consulting local authorities. The decision is passed to Vice President of Administrative Affairs, James LaGatta, by Richard Edwards, Director of the Physical Plant, and finally passed to President Andrew Matonak. General protocol calls for closings and cancellations to be executed at 5:00 a.m., but projections for Juno’s path prompted the college to close on Monday afternoon.

“The first decision is based on classes, because that affects most of our students and faculty,” said Dennis Kennedy, Director of Marketing and Communications. “It’s a last resort. There’s a lot of interference with college business and operations that happens when we’re closed. Our goal is to continue operations when staff are unable to report to work.”

 

Juno hype brings Tuesday closure

“I think [Hudson Valley] did make the call too early, but so did everybody else. It was really easy to. They say this is a historic storm when I’m flipping through the news but I don’t see how it’s too historic — maybe in terms of hype,” said Chris Grygeo, liberal arts major.

“We live in a world full of hype. This happened to the Capital Region, and it was bound to happen to Hudson Valley as well,” said Azmad Din, who would have had classes from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. if the college had been open Tuesday in the wake of Winter Storm Juno. “I’m glad the college closed, but it didn’t have to,” he said.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for ten counties, including Rensselaer County, from 10:42 a.m. Tuesday to 1:00 p.m Wednesday.

Russell Sage and the Educational Opportunity Center closed in anticipation of Juno, but Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute stayed open.

Classes on Tuesday were officially cancelled at 3:39 p.m. on Monday. About five hours later, at 8:50 p.m., the college closed its doors.

“I think [Hudson Valley] did make the call too early, but so did everybody else. It was really easy to. They say this is a historic storm when I’m flipping through the news but I don’t see how it’s too historic — maybe in terms of hype,” said Chris Grygeo, liberal arts major.

“If somebody needed to get here, they should’ve had the campus open at the very least. We’re only two weeks into the actual semester, there are still students who need books and those who use this place to get internet access,” said Tyler Danforth, fine arts student.

 

More snow Friday, college open

Winter Storm Juno was not the only touch of snow the college received last week. On Friday morning, snow plows made a reappearance after a three day break with several inches of snow and heavy wind hitting an open campus.

The Tuesday cancellation, where snowfall levels fell well below expectations, led some students to question why classes weren’t cancelled Friday’s heavier morning snowfall.

“They closed when there wasn’t much snow in the morning, and now they’re open with at a time when students are on campus and it’s continually snowing,” said Kayla Baker, individual studies student. Snow cleared up in the early afternoon Friday.

According to Shane Walsh, liberal arts major, many students in his classes did not commute to school last Friday despite the campus remaining open. That day, Walsh had five out of 17 students including himself attend a biology class and ten out of about 40 students present in English composition.

Olivia Deep shares Walsh’s major and his experience during Friday’s snowfall on campus. “I have math and sign language class. Both [classes] seemed almost like nobody signed up this semester. They were pretty empty,” she said.

“It’s probably more dangerous to get to school today than it would be Tuesday,” said Caitlin Dalessandro, in the paramedic program, regarding classroom attendance sensitivity to winter weather. “It’s easy to lose a great chunk of students due to weather. Attendance is different at community college.”

Preston Gardner, a business administration student, commutes to Hudson Valley from Pittstown, MA through narrow back roads four days a week. “There have been times where the class hasn’t been cancelled and I’ve spun out,” said Gardner. During the storm on Tuesday, Gardner considered class cancellations beneficial to him.

“I don’t think school should have been closed for the morning. I think night classes should’ve been closed. The roads were not that great,” said Ariel Sanford, an individual studies major who said her commute to Hudson Valley takes about 40 minutes from Nassau. “I wouldn’t have come to school either way. I drive a little tiny car and I travel on the back roads,” she said.

 

Sunday night storm shuts down college Monday

Not long after the Patriots intercepted Russell Wilson to win the Super Bowl, snow started falling at Hudson Valley. By Monday morning, there was about a half foot of snow on the ground and the snow was still falling at a steady rate.

The college sent an email to students at 10:53 pm on Sunday night notifying them that the college would be closed the following day.

By the end of the storm, which lived up to the forecast unlike Winter Storm Juno on the previous Monday, the Capital Region was coated with nearly a foot of new snow.

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Snow removal

Public safety and Physical Plant staff are the only faculty required to report when the college closes down.

Snow removal at Hudson Valley is a joint effort between the Physical Plant and private services. The Physical Plant operates one large plow, five trucks with plows for parking lots, and two smaller quads with salters and blowers. Contractors assist the Physical Plant with two dump trucks.

Some students were disappointed in the efficacy of snow removal during the Friday snowfall. “I had a class back at Williams Hall and the whole parking lot wasn’t plowed,” said Emily Taplin, individual studies student.

“They don’t always move [snow] out of the way,” said Kaitlyn Marcellus, fine arts major. “People end up parking on the snowbanks.”

According to Public Safety, three vehicles were towed and relocated to other parking lots across campus by Dawson’s Body Shop and Towing, based in Watervliet.

 

Regional impacts

 

Although the hype of winter weather did not hit campus until Friday, many areas of the Northeast experienced hurricane-force winds, coastal flooding and up to three feet of snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. Over 7,000 flights were cancelled as the blizzard ripped through an area expected to affect 58 million people. The economic cost for Winter Storm Juno hit $300 million for New York State.

New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Hampshire declared a state of emergency. New York State had a travel ban on 13 counties from 11:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday. The closest of these counties to Hudson Valley was Dutchess County, 49 miles away.

 

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