BENNINGTON -- As expected, Wednesday's snowstorm caused schools and several businesses to close after it dumped at least seven inches of snow on parts of Bennington County.
According to the National Weather Service, only two reports had come in from the Bennington area mid-Wednesday. Woodford reported seven and a half inches, while Landgrove reported four and a half. Windham County also reported seven and a half inches of snowfall.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd said the latest forecasts indicated the snow would be done falling by approximately 6 p.m. "We are staying ahead of it, if just barely," he said. "The last I heard it's not going to be as long a storm as they originally thought."
The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement saying that a moderate level of snow would continue through the region over Wednesday night, affecting travel and visibility in Southern Vermont, New York's Capital Region, and the Adirondacks into Lake George and Saratoga.
The Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union announced Tuesday evening that school would be canceled Wednesday, as did the Battenkill Valley Supervisory Union. Also closed Wednesday due to the snowfall were Hoosick Falls Central School District and Cambridge Central School District in nearby New York.
The Associated Press reported that at least 20 major crashes occurred across the state, and Vermont State Police reminded travelers not to use the U-turns along the highways, which is illegal to do anyway for safety reasons.
On Main Street in Bennington, the roads were slushy and the sidewalks snowy throughout the day. A fair number of businesses had closed, but many remained open, even if it was just the owner coming in to catch up on tax paperwork. Or chocolate.
"We're getting ready for Valentine's Day, and since I'm here, we're open," said Nick Monte, owner of the Village Chocolate Shop, 471 Main St. He had an appointment in Bennington Wednesday, so decided to make some headway on orders for a giant peanut butter cup and other treats.
"The employees didn't come in, I told them to stay home," he said.
Monte lives in Arlington, where he owns another Village Chocolate Shop location. "It was passable. I took my time, I only went 40 miles per hour. The Bennington roads are fine. They're slushy, but clear for the most part."
Rick Havlak, owner of the Bennington Bookshop, 467 Main St., walks to work, but told his employee who commutes from Hoosick, N.Y., to stay home. The roads were snowier in New York, he said.
Some downtown business owners didn't bat an eye at the snowy weather.
"We're New Englanders, I don't know what happened to us. We should all be open," said Bob Moulton, owner of Moulton's Spectacle Shoppe, 463 Main St. He and his wife drove to work from North Adams, Mass., expecting between seven and 10 inches of snow. Moulton said he does not expect to do much business on a day like Wednesday, but said he would use the time to catch up on preparing for taxes.
While unnecessary travel was not advisable during the storm, some businesses did not have a choice. "Just because the storm is here, doesn't mean people don't need their medications," said Lucie Prouty, customer service manager at The Pharmacy, 205 North St. The Pharmacy has a delivery service that stretches from the Massachusetts border in Pownal to the Four Corners in Danby. The Bennington location delivers in the morning and afternoon, while the Manchester location handles Northshire deliveries in the afternoon.
Prouty said while deliveries do not stop because of heavy snowfall, some prioritizing is done to make sure those with the highest need get their medications.
Meals on Wheels of Bennington County said via its Facebook page that it deliveries would not be made Wednesday because of the storm, nor would the office or café be open. People had the opportunity, however, to have picked up a meal Tuesday to be eaten Wednesday.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.