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Snow takes a toll on Catonsville businesses

Baltimore WeatherNational Weather Service

Snow is causing complications for Catonsville area businesses that have been forced to close due to the weather conditions, while residents are trying to stay inside and off the roads until the winter storm passes.

A National Weather Service winter storm warning will remain active until 5 a.m. Friday.  The heavy snowfall is expected to taper off by late morning and will pick up again late this afternoon, the National Weather Service website said. 

Baltimore County public school officials made the decision to close schools today, which might draw a favorable reaction from students.

However, most business owners don't feel the same way.

Wayne McDowell, owner of McDowell's Complete Chimney Service in Lansdowne, said his business will be closed today.  

His company has lost about 10 percent of their revenue this year due to winter storms, McDowell said.  

"The snow shuts our business down for liability reasons," McDowell said.

McDowell said his chimney sweep service requires men to climb on ladders, which becomes dangerous in wintry weather.  

"I don't want to risk men's lives being on a ladder," he said.  

McDowell is optimistic that Spring will bring more business because people are using their fireplaces and wood stoves more often due to the cold weather.

Atwater's Naturally Leavened Bread Bakery and Cafe in Catonsville closed its doors today because staff couldn't get to work this morning due to the hazardous driving conditions, said owner Ned Atwater.  

He's at their production facility located at Whittington Avenue in Morrell Park, shoveling snow and making sure bread is baked for when they re-open tomorrow.  

In Lansdowne, Corner Florist owner Jackie Jones, is filling orders for her busiest day of the year -- Valentine's Day.  

Jones had one of her employees spend the night at the store on Hammonds Ferry Road, so she wouldn't have to make the drive from Pasadena. 

"We're not doing deliveries today because it's just not safe," Jones said.  

Snow is also bad news for business at Bill's Music House on Frederick Road, said Jamie Reese, daughter of Bill Higgins, 71, who owns the store. 

"It's a massive expense," Reese said Wednesday morning.

Snow means the store will be forced to cancel music lessons, which means lost revenue, Reese said.  

"We're usually open in most conditions. But if we get what is predicted, we will probably be closed, which is rare for us," Reese said.

"We're buying tons of ice melt and will make sure we have our shovels ready," Reese said before the storm hit.  

The store is a family-run business that sells musical instruments, offers instrument repairs and gives music lessons. Reese works with her brother, Brian Higgins, her sister, Tracey Kern, and brother-in-law Leni Kern.  

Across the street at SugarBakers Cakes, the business was busy filling orders before the snow began to fall Wednesday.

Employees said they were too busy to talk Wednesday morning.

In the Catonsville community of Paradise, Ron Young of Ferguson Hardware sold his last bag of ice melt just before 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Young said snow is usually good for his business, which sells ice melt and rock salt, but there's a shortage this year due to the weather.  

"It's good but we wish we had more inventory," said Young, 66, who has owned the business on Frederick Road just east of the Baltimore Beltway since 1977.  

"I think a lot of other businesses are in the same situation as we are. It's just the weather patterns over the U.S. this year. There's a shortage of rock salt and ice melt," Young said.  

Young said his supplier notified him more than a week ago that supplies of rock salt and ice melt had run out.

Longtime Catonsville resident Wilnet Bristow, 82, who lives on Holly Manor Road, said she's staying out of the cold today with her husband, Ted Bristow,  79.  

The streets are quiet except for neighborhood boys who have helped shovel the sidewalks, Bristow said.  

Baltimore County has spent nearly $9.9 million on winter storm operations this year, said Baltimore County spokeswoman Lauren Byrd. 

The county is asking that residents  keep their vehicles off the street and park in their driveway, if possible, to allow snow plows to do their job, Byrd said.  

Residents are encouraged to find storm related information at:  www.baltimorecounty.gov/snowfighter.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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