Tallmadge -- The extremely cold temperatures at the beginning of last week left their mark throughout the city with school closures, frozen water pipes and the interruption of heat and electricity at some homes and businesses. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures broke records the morning of Jan. 7 when they were recorded at minus 11 degrees in Cleveland, minus 12 degrees in Youngstown and minus 7 degrees in Columbus.

In Tallmadge, forecasters expected a high of 3 degrees with blowing snow during the day and a low of 1 degree at night. Winds picked up and blew snow from the ground, which aggravated the deep freeze.

The Weather Service said it was the coldest weather in Ohio since January of 1994, when it reached minus 25 in Akron and minus 20 in Cleveland.

Several communities in the area opened warming centers for residents who lost heat in their homes. When the temperature in Tallmadge only rose to zero degrees with a wind chill of minus 25 degrees on Jan. 6, the city made the Recreation Center available for 24 hours, until two of the main heating units malfunctioned, causing a large portion of the facility to get as cold as 45 degrees, according to Mayor Dave Kline.

"We think some of the sensors, because it's so cold, shut everything down," Public Service Director Bryan Esler said.

While repairmen were fixing the heaters, the city opened the Community Center to residents. By Jan. 9, the heaters were fully operational.

Only one person used the warming center at the Recreation Center, and only for a brief time on Jan. 6, Esler said.

Kline said about 500 First Energy customers on the south side of the city lost power for around two hours.

The city rescheduled two City Council meetings from Jan. 6 to 9, and trash pickup was delayed by one day.

The day students were scheduled to return from winter break -- Jan. 7 -- Tallmadge City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ferguson called a calamity day. All school activities and events were cancelled.

Cornerstone Community School closed on Jan. 6 and 7.

Esler said the city was "fairly lucky" as the severe winter weather didn't cause many major problems, although sprinklers in the lower level of City Hall broke the evening on Jan. 8, releasing about 2 inches of water on the carpeting, which now needs to be replaced.

Three residents reported water issues at their homes. One resident's city water meter had broken, causing the water to shut off, and was replaced. Two reports were from residents whose homes had frozen pipes, but the residents took care of the problems themselves, Esler said.

The main water line for the building that was previously the home of the Tallmadge Aquatic Center on West Avenue, which the Tallmadge Little League now leases a portion of, froze because heating tape wasn't properly affixed, Kline said. Although water leaked onto the carpet, no significant damage was reported.

The Weather Service's forecast for Jan. 12 calls for a high of 39 degrees with a chance of snow and a low of 32 degrees.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

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