This photo by Ami Schecter, who lives along the PaulinsKill River, snapped a shot of an ice-laden tractor.
By laurie gordon
As the Rams beat the Saints to win the Conference Championships on Sunday afternoon, the snow was starting to come down. By the time the Patriots defeated Kansas City for their Super Bowl berth later that evening, Winter Storm Harper was showing its wrath. Monday dawned with some out of power and most scurrying to shovel the extremely heavy combination of snow and ice before the winds increased and temperatures plummeted to well below freezing. Sussex County Public Works Director Scott House said, “We had our crews out there and were able to clear most of the slush before the temperatures dropped. There was some black ice but it was minimal and we took care of about a half-a-dozen trees that came down.” With the forecast, the DPW was out before the storm priming the roads. “We were prepared and were also very lucky there wasn't any more damage this time around,” House said. In Stillwater, the White family was thankful for their wood burning stove and hunkered down for the two days. “We are definitely staying inside today,” Laura White said on Monday. Dean Giering, of Newton, said his big mission was to get the shoveling done before the freeze set in. “With the deep freeze coming, there wasn't a chance to take a break,” he said. “The shoveling had to be done while it could be done.” Melissa Wright of Stockholm, said, “We just stayed inside, made a fire and watched some movies.” She did get outside to take a stunning photo of the ice in the trees. In Newton, at River's Edge Horse Rescue & Sanctuary, volunteers, including Diane Romano, were hard at work making sure their rescued horses were safe. Rivers Edge saves horses from neglect, abuse and abandonment. “It takes about 12 to 14 hours a day in the cold weather bust up water troughs and buckets that are frozen,” Romano said. “We need to break up frozen water tubs and trudge through frozen fields to feed the horses hay. It's truly a labor of love. There is 10 times more work when horses are locked inside due to a storm and freeze such as this one. The stalls need to be cleaned daily in addition to unfreezing the water, cleaning them and refilling.” Jeanne Heinke had a very positive outlook of the snow and ice. “Look at the beauty; the glistening on the trees, the red of cardinals against the snow, the crackling fire in a fireplace, the hot meal made for the 'shoveler,'” she said, “You can’t change the storm so look for the beauty in it.” Melissa Towey, of Sparta, said her family dealt with the ice and cold well. “I think it looks like a beautiful winter wonderland,” she said. “I try to look at the positive, so for me, staying home all weekend was a welcome recovery from always being on the go. I was looking forward to not being able to go anywhere.” Dr. Gregory Martin is a chiropractor in Sparta. “Sometimes the weather slows down the office, however it's a great time to get administrative work done,” he said. “I'll get to the office if someone needs treatment as soon as I am able in ice and storms. Unfortunately, especially, with this snow and ice being so heavy to shovel, people do get injured.” Ami Shecter and James Figielski love the Paulinskill Trail and the Paulinskill River. The couple, who live along the river, have taken amazing photographs all over the area. They love going out together shooting: not a gun but a camera. Shecter snapped a photo of an ice-laden tractor, and Figielski captured a real rarity. “He got a picture of a bald eagle early Sunday morning on a driveway that runs along the river,” Shecter said, “The eagle had probably been roosting there overnight. Sometimes you get some great shots in this sort of weather.” For Kim Strada of Hampton, Monday's ice and deep freeze wasn't so pretty. She left the fire, where she was sitting with her kids, to go check on the family's chickens and get the eggs. Figuring she would be just a moment, Strada didn't put on gloves and ventured outside. “We have a little bit of a sloping property, and as I was walking down to the coop, I started to slide,” she said. “I walked in any holes I could find as there was no way I could break through the ice to make a footprint.” Finally, Strada was five feet away from the coop and her fingers felt like they were going to snap off. Things got worse: she fell. “I had to pull my self up by sticking my fingers in little animal foot prints,” she said. “I grabbed the fence of the chicken coop but couldn't get in. It was frozen shut.” By this time, her hands and body were so cold, she had to retreat back into the house. “I pray the chickens are okay and certainly have a whole new appreciation for the people who live in Alaska.” According to theWeatherChannel.com, Winter Storm Harper was responsible for 10 deaths. Thousands of flights were canceled, and the storm knocked out power for tens of thousands of customers and caused hundreds of crashes. Stillwater Mayor Lisa Chammings thanked the Department of Public Works workers for the long hours they put in during the storm and aftermath. “We did have some power outages in Stillwater but JCPL heeded the directive of the BPU after the March and May storms. This included them calling in Jersey Central Power & Light,” Chammings said. The mayor stated that additional resources included: 500 electrical contractors, 200 forestry contractors, 200 hazard responders, 100 damage assessors and 100 support personnel dispatched to our area. “It worked for those who lost power I heard comments of they spoke with a live person and had response times of less than an hour and restoration was completed quickly," Chammings said. On Monday she urged anyone still without power to call it in and said, “In this cold please check on friends and neighbors that may need some help.” Benny's Bogoda is a non-profit run by Benjamin Davey. A long-time worker in human services, far too often, Davey saw clients with great needs for food, warmth and more so he and co-workers started Benny's Bogoda. “The bitter cold can be unbearable and threaten the well-being of people and families, especially those without the resources to appropriately house and clothe themselves,” Davey said. “Please consider donating winter clothing (sweatshirts, warm pants, coats, long sleeved shirts) along with blankets and food. People need to focus on getting out of the cold, not where they are going to eat or what they are going to wear to stay warm.” The coldest weather hit on Martin Luther King Day. A line from King's 1961 The American Dream speech reads, “As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich even if he has a billion dollars.” Donations can be taken to the Sussex Office of Child Protection and Permanency located at 20 East Clinton Street in Newton, and there are many other places to donate in the area this winter. Irene Ingala of Sparta was simply thankful. “When a storm and cold like this hit, we just have to make the best of it," she said. "Be thankful you are here to experience this weather rather than not.”