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The blizzard of 1996

As I was looking through some old Tomahawk newspapers recently, one caught my eye due to the front-page headline in bold, half-inch letters that cried out “Blizzard’s Blast Buries Johnson County.” I have featured over time a number of columns about severe Johnson County weather from tornados to record low of temperatures but I don’t believe I have ever written about that particular phenomenon. If my memory is correct, we had only one rather deep snow in 1996: up to three feet according to the article in that January 10, 1996 paper written by former Tomahawk Associate Editor Lee Staiger. Lee retired before I did. She and her husband Bill now live in Florida. Another feature of the front page was a picture I had taken of the snow covering a bench that shows the snow to be about three feet in depth. It’s always interesting for me to critique my work of several years ago.
Apparently that storm was similar to those that blasted the Northeast recently. The difference was that those storms missed us for the most part. The storm sure didn’t miss us in ’96. The east coast was paralyzed. East coast airports were closed, mail delivery was stopped, and schools were closed. Since Johnson County area folks are blessed with common sense and considering that it’s a good deal slower with less hustle and bustle than the big cities further east, everything went well here according to then Johnson County Civil Defense Director Cliff Dunn. “People prepared better, He said.” As usual the Supermarkets were very busy with the added aggravation of delivery trucks not getting through to deliver their goods. County firemen and local ham operators were busy reporting and taking care of emergency calls as they occurred. According to the January 10, 1996 Tomahawk, some 30 people had no heat, five were without food, and three folks were helped to get their medicine. There was some local power outages according to the story but most folks were had no electricity for only a brief time. As most always the case, cars slid into the ditch or there were minor fender benders. Only minor injuries occurred.

Ryan Arnold tosses in 53 Points.
This is a vast departure from the previous subject, but I couldn’t leave out a sports story featured in that newspaper written by yours truly: not because it was my story, but because Ryan Arnold was featured in it. The Johnson County Longhorn basketball team went up against Beaver Creek and crushed them 115-72 in a non-conference game at Ray Shoun Memorial Gym. What was most interesting about the story was a feat by Ryan Arnold. Arnold broke a school record with a score of 53 points in a single game. Arnold is now head basketball coach at Daniel Boone High School. He is a graduate of Virginia Intermont College where he was a four-year starter in basketball. In 2003 Arnold was hired as an assistant to legendary coach Bobby Snyder. He later took over the program following Snyder’s retirement.