County government offices stay 'on' during the storm

A seat check on Monday and Tuesday morning found that most county employees were at their desk and offices were open for business and functioning normally despite the snow and ice, the county communications office reported Wednesday.

The most prominent empty seats belonged to County Council members from Orcas and Lopez islands, who nevertheless participated in County Council sessions on both days via telephone.

Aside from the council members, only eight of the nearly 200 employees scheduled to work in the departments surveyed were absent Monday and Tuesday because of weather-related problems. Three of the absent employees live on Orcas Island, one on Blakely Island, one on Lopez Island and four on San Juan Island.

On Wednesday morning, Public Works Director Jon Shannon reported that county road crews would be sanding and clearing roads constantly for the next 24 hours to try to keep up with the accumulation of snow and ice.

In anticipation of potentially worsening weather, department heads have the discretion to allow employees with potentially hazardous commutes to leave early enough to complete their drive home before dark.

County personnel policy allows employees to use their discretion in cases where their personal safety is at issue and use accumulated leave if county offices are officially open, but the employee feels that traveling would be too hazardous.

In some cases, a Sheriff’s Department four-wheel-drive vehicle may help transport county employees, but that has not been necessary during the current storm, the communications office reported.

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