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      Columbia urges caution on roadways as snow hits

      The Columbia Public Works spent Wednesday afternoon preparing for a New Year's snow storm. With snowflakes rapidly accumulating, salt trucks and plows are working to keep the streets safe and open. The streets of Columbia were empty Wednesday night, with cold temperatures keeping people inside. Ace Hardware manager Jim Clemens said he spent the day selling shovels and sidewalk salt to residents concerned about the impending snow. "It was decent, but not as good as the first one, pre-Christmas," Clemens said. "We sold more shovels and salt this time." Wednesday afternoon, sand truck drivers lined up the trucks on Big Bear Boulevard for their turn to receive a load of salt mixture. Public Works crews spent the afternoon pre-treating the roads in anticipation of a moderate snowfall. "Preparation is three quarters of the battle," said Public Works Supervisor Matt Stone. "Actually doing the work is a big part of it too." The city will use over 20 salt trucks and 300 tons of salt to treat the roads. In parking lots around the city there remains some large piles of snow from Columbia's last big snowstorm. Staff from Public Works say they serve as reminders for residents to keep safe. "It's really important from our perspective that people move their parked cars off of any street that's specifically a first or second priority street," Stone said. "That allows our trucks to get in there and clean the streets off, get them really clear in a quicker time frame." Stone said his crews expect to be out until 7 a.m. Thursday.