On a slippery slope

Winter weather holds some back but excites others
Friday, February 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:45 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Although Thursday’s mix of wintry weather created hassles for some Columbia residents, Art Gerhard saw the day as an opportunity to take a day off of work to spend time with his children.

Gerhard’s two children, Jake, 6, and Bretta, 10, woke up this morning, like many other Columbia students, to the news that snowy weather had canceled classes at Ridgeway Elementary and other Columbia Public Schools.

“I just decided to take a vacation day from work so I could make a pot of Cincinnati chili and go sledding with the kids,” Gerhard said.

The Gerhard family was among many who spent the afternoon sledding at Stephens Lake Park.

A crowd of children, teenagers and adults clad in bright colors and layers of clothing gathered at the popular sledding hill to turn a day of bad weather into one of fun.

“I like being with my friends and going sledding,” Jake Gerhard said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m kind of happy and kind of not happy that we didn’t have school today, because I like school.”

Kelli Schmidt, 12, woke up at 5:30 Thursday morning to get ready for classes before hearing on the radio that Smithton Middle School was closed.

“I was pretty excited, so my friends and I decided to go sledding today,” she said. “This is one of the best places in town to go.”

Ellen Hosmer had a difficult time getting her children to the park because of road conditions.

“The roads were pretty slick, so we had to bring the van in shifts,” she said. “We slid backwards on Broadway a little bit, but once we got here, we’ve been having a lot of fun.”

New to the hill at Stephen’s Park was 4-year-old Madison Fuchs.

“This is Madison’s first real sledding event,” her mom, Kelly, said. “Now she doesn’t want to leave.”

“I like the snow,” Madison said.

Columbia Public Schools budgeted four snow days for the 2004-05 school year. With Thursday’s cancellation, the district has used three of those days.

Each year the number of school days is different. The district determines snow days by taking into account things such as how many days were needed the prior year.

Over the years, the number of days has ranged from two to as many as six.

If the school district exceeds the limit early enough, Columbia Public Schools could take away breaks such as Presidents Day or Memorial Day. If that doesn’t work, days will be added on to the end of the year.

— Laura Hammargren of the Missourian’s staff contributed to this report.

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