News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 11, 2014

ARCTIC BLAST 2014: Monetary impact from last weekend’s storm good for some, bad for others

TERRE HAUTE — The snow may be slowly melting away, but the bills from last week’s mega winter storm continue to pile higher.

Local governments were forced to spend big sums in employee overtime and fuel expenses to attempt to keep roads clear while Wabash Valley residents paid in dozens of other ways, including furnace repairs, unplanned stays in motels and towing fees.

“It’ll be tens of thousands of dollars for this one,” said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, reflecting on the cost to the City. “It was a pretty big storm.”

Vigo County also faced big expenses from the storm, said Dan Bennett, superintendent of the county highway department. In addition to fuel and staffing costs, the county is also looking at five or six towing bills after a handful of plows became stuck during the storm, he said.

“The overtime for this thing is going to be considerable,” Dan Bennett said.

City and county snowplows were running 24 hours a day starting Sunday afternoon through Thursday, meaning lots of overtime pay and fuel expense. Final cost figures were not yet available, the mayor and the highway superintendent said.

Terre Haute sets aside enough money to pay for six big snow events each year, the mayor said. The storm that started a week ago counted for at least two storms, he added.

“This is a big one,” Mayor Bennett said. “I don’t think we’ve had one of these kinds of storms in 20 or 25 years.”

Despite the high cost of the storm, Bennett did not believe it would necessarily push the City over its budgeted snow and ice removal budget for 2014. Of course, that will depend on the weather. “We’ve got plenty of money in [the budget] right now to deal with this,” Bennett said. “But what else will happen the rest of this winter or next December?”

Dan Bennett, highway superintendent, said he plans to meet this week with the County Commissioners to discuss the costs of the storm. He’ll look at specific budget numbers “after we get out of the woods,” he said.

A bright side

While the storm has had a high price for local governments and residents, it gave a boost in business for a few area industries, including towing, furnace repair and hospitality.

“We’re running nonstop,” said Bob Miller, service manager for Paitson Bros. Heating and Air Conditioning, a Terre Haute-based business. The bitter cold Monday and Tuesday saw dozens of furnace failures that required emergency-level response, added Ethan Rayburn, general manager of the business.

“Obviously, it was bitterly, bitterly cold,” he said.

On Friday, Paitson’s Miller was working at the home of Jerry and Imogene Tiller in Terre Haute. Their furnace stopped working during the worst of the cold snap and Paitsons responded promptly to make the needed repairs, Jerry Tiller said. The company was back Thursday to follow up.

“We’ll get you through and keep your heat on for you,” Miller told the homeowner.

In 58 years of marriage, the Tillers had never experienced an emergency furnace call, Jerry said after shoveling the snow from his driveway. “Paitsons is really good about taking care of their customers.”

Towing services also saw a big increase in business as a result of the storm.

“We’ve been busy since Sunday,” said Debbie May of Mike’s Auto Wrecking and Towing in Terre Haute. The same was true of Peffley & Hinshaw Wrecker Service, which tows disabled semitrailers, said Paul May, owner. In addition to snow-related problems, the diesel fuel of some semitrailers became jelled during the deep freeze, leaving them stranded, he said.

Durr’s Towing of Terre Haute became very busy starting Tuesday, said Bob Durr, owner. On Monday, most people stayed home, he said. On Tuesday, they were trying to get around and often became stuck in the deep snow.

Durr’s was operating round-the-clock, Durr said Thursday. “It’ll be this way for another week.”

For area hotels, business was also brisk as some local residents lost heat or electricity and passing motorists were forced to exit Interstate 70.

The first 10 days of January are normally very slow in the hotel business, said Bill Burdine, area manager for the Holiday Inn – Terre Haute and the Springhill Suites. This storm changed that significantly. “It was good for us.”

Extra effort

The boost in sales may have been a welcome surprise for some local businesses, but it came at a steep price to those same firms, their owners and employees. Most people in those businesses got little sleep from Sunday through Wednesday as they went to extraordinary measures to serve their customers.

The Holiday Inn–Terre Haute and Springhill Suites both went to extra lengths to make sure customers had clean rooms and – more importantly – plenty to eat while stranded, Burdine said. The Holiday Inn provided free soup in its lobby for its guests and staff purchased supplies from a local wholesale business in order to make sure that specific food items – such as eggs – were on hand, he said. Hotel employees spent the night on-site to keep the kitchen and restaurant staffed, he added.

“We were able to take care of our guests well and make a lot of new friends,” Burdine said. On Monday, few area businesses were open, so the guests relied on the hotel for food, he said.

“We were the only place in the area that was taking care of our customers,” he said. “They couldn’t go anywhere. It was almost like going to a ski lodge.”

Early Monday morning, in sub-zero temperatures, Paitson’s Miller was more-than knee deep in snow on the roof of a customer’s home in southern Vigo County clearing an exhaust flu, he recalled. The company was also forced to use four-wheel drive pickup trucks to reach some remote customers, noted Rayburn.

“We were all over,” Rayburn said. The company serviced disabled furnaces in rural Parke, Vermillion, Edgar and other area counties, he said. “You realize what’s at stake when it’s 13 below,” Rayburn said. “We kind of threw away the time clock.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • Purdue Shooting2.jpg Purdue shooting leaves one person dead

    A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 042014 DOUBLE-DEATH.jpg 2 bodies found in Pimento home

    Police were at the scene of a death investigation on Sunday in southern Vigo County.
    “It’s a double death investigation,” Vigo County Chief Deputy Clark E. Cottom told the Tribune-Star at the scene.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Purdue Shooting_Will.jpg THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs

    Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bosma Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee

    Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014 snowtracks.jpg We enter the deep freeze again

    If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014busses weir.jpg Levy redirects school funds

    If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.

    January 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana

    School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
    More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.

    January 21, 2014

  • MET 012114 DONNELLY BOARD.jpg VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board

    Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase

    After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.

    January 21, 2014

  • SPT041614 morrismorris.jpg BOSTON MARATHON: Not intimidated

    One reason Mike Morris — and many runners can relate — has been a distance runner for 30 years is it’s restorative powers. Not to the body but to the mind.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 041814 HUXFORD PAT.jpg Overcoming symptoms

    Even when he was in grade school, it was obvious Justin Huxford was a special kid.
    He was the first at Rio Grande Elementary School to walk 100 miles around the school grounds over the school year, one of just a handful of kids to meet the goal.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 042014 POWELL EASTER.jpg Answering the call

    Static was the only thing on TV or radio. People were on their knees as they prayed. It was, as if for three whole days, the world stood still.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • TH wins 8th Tree City USA ‘Growth’ award

    Terre Haute was named a 2013 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

    April 20, 2014

  • ISU hosts Ukraine panel today

    In Ruth Fairbanks’ morning commute to work recently, she heard two news stories on the radio about Ukraine. Considering her drive-time is just five minutes, it demonstrates how unstable — and newsworthy — Eastern Europe is these days.

    April 20, 2014

  • MET041714 harvest hands.jpg Their dream rises: Mother-daughter duo team up to expand eastside bakery

    As she gently formed a round sourdough, Marta Shelton seemed to hold her dreams in the palm of her hands.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET041814church medina cut.jpg Church resurrected: Prairie Creek church that burned in the midst of a winter storm ready for rebirth

    From the ashes of a devastating winter fire comes out a church reborn.

    April 19, 2014 4 Photos

  • Vigo School Board to approve central pool bond resolution

    On Monday, the Vigo County School Board will receive an update on a planned, $9.8 million aquatics center that will be built in Voorhees Park.

    April 19, 2014

  • Kokomo Tornado 02.JPG Inconsistent help: FEMA’s disaster decisions frustrate state, local leaders

    Pamela Jackson thought she was lucky to escape harm as a tornado bore down on her neighborhood last November. She huddled in a bathroom with her two disabled sons, critically ill husband and six other family members as the twister blew out windows and tore the roof off her house. Hers was one of scores of homes and businesses in Howard County that were damaged or demolished by the storm.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 041814 ROBOT BRUBAKER.jpg Gearing up

    A team of Vigo County high school students — and its robot — are gearing up to compete against 127 teams from throughout the world in an upcoming international robotics competition.

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET041714 little library.jpg VCPL to install free ‘little libraries’

    Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: A Little Free Library.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flaws in new ed standards ‘too substantial’

    A State Board of Education member formally requested Friday that an education panel abandon a proposed overhaul of Indiana’s education standards and instead recommend that the state’s previous benchmarks be reinstated in classrooms this fall.

    April 18, 2014

  • Spike in mumps cases reported across Illinois

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Public health officials are investigating a sharp increase in the number of mumps cases recorded in central Illinois.

    April 18, 2014

  • Police: Fatal fire began with dropped cigarette

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — State police say a fatal house fire in a southern Indiana town began when a disabled woman dropped a cigarette.

    April 18, 2014

  • Board member asks for old Indiana school standards

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A State Board of Education member is calling for a proposed overhaul of Indiana’s education standards to be ditched and that the state’s old benchmarks be reinstated in classrooms this fall.

    April 18, 2014

  • MET 041714 BOOKS OUABACHE.jpg A real page turner

    Victory was sweet for the Franklin Elementary teammates, who won their first ever Battle of the Books competition Thursday at Meadows Elementary.

    April 17, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET041714 bucshon.jpg Rep. Bucshon leads discussion on minority care in Vigo County

    The list of problems seems endless: Lack of health insurance, mental illness, cultural barriers and stigmas about routine medical check ups, to name only a few.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vigo County students, educators recently made a 2-week trip to Terre Haute’s sister city of Tajimi

    Six Vigo County high school students and two educators, including superintendent Dan Tanoos, recently returned from a two-week cultural exchange trip to Tajimi, Japan.

    April 17, 2014

  • tsBennett Tribune-Star columnist named company’s best

    The Tribune-Star’s Mark Bennett has been named CNHI’s Columnist of the Year for 2013 in its large newspaper division.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay man arrested on drug charges

    An eight-month investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of Wednesday of a Clay County man on meth-related charges, authorities said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Drug raid leads to arrest of siblings

    Siblings were arrested Thursday after police said they discovered an active meth lab in a Terre Haute home, authorities said.

    April 17, 2014

Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Miley Cyrus Still in Hospital, Cancels 2nd Show
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010