Catoosa County officials and department heads gathered with the Emergency Management Agency Thursday, Jan. 5, to go over the county's winter weather plan in preparation for the possible inclement weather expected to hit Northwest Georgia over the weekend.

The winter weather training exercise had been planned for a while, and just so happened to come at the perfect time with the first snow of the season expected to begin Friday.

"We've had this meeting planned for over a month," said Catoosa County Manager Jim Walker. "We've had it the past couple of years in December, but we pushed it back to after the first of the year so that our new fire chief, Randy Camp, would be involved with it. We wanted to make sure to have his knowledge and expertise as part of the meeting."

The meeting involved Catoosa County EMA, the Sheriff's Department, Public Works, Catoosa County Fire & Rescue, Angel EMS, and Catoosa County 4-H.

"We may be facing a wintery mix this weekend, so we wanted to make sure and have our department heads here to make sure we're all on the same page," Walker said. "We want to work seamlessly together to provide the necessary services to the citizens of our county,"

Public Works Director D.E. "Buster" Brown updated everyone on the brining plans, which began at 7 a.m. Thursday, and explained the breakdown of the road pre-treatment and snow removal protocol throughout the county.

"We have the county divided into three areas on our map, and we prioritize the roads in each area beginning with the bridges and overpasses," Brown said. "We've upgraded to a 10-minute cycle time on making brine."

The discussion also included the manning of trucks and equipment, crews to cut down trees and limbs when/if needed, and the closing of the courthouse and other government buildings if the need arises.

"We prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Steve Quinn, division chief of administrative services and safety for Catoosa County Fire & Rescue.

Catoosa County EMA Director Doug Flury talked about this weekend's scenario, and included everyone in attendance on a conference call briefing from Peachtree City, Ga., regarding the forecast, which puts the Metro Atlanta area and Northwest Georgia in a "Winter Storm Watch" starting at 7 p.m. Friday through 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

The briefing calls for possibly 3-5 inches of snow in the metro Atlanta area during that time, with snow possibly beginning to trickle into the Catoosa, Walker, and Dade counties area late Thursday to Friday morning. Round two of the scenario would then start back up between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.

The "Winter Storm Watch" could upgrade to a "Warning" or "Advisory" come Friday evening.

"There will be more briefing calls at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. today," Flury said.

During the meeting, Flury also discussed Ringgold High School being the county's go-to site for a shelter if needed, and all departments were encouraged to go ahead and get all trucks and vehicle filled with fuel in case the weather hits hard.

Walker said the Trains-Aid Department would still be ready to take certain folks in need to their dialysis treatments, and stressed the importance of having all planning details covered before the weather hits.

"We want to make sure we have our phone trees updated and exercised within each department so we can get a hold of everybody, we want to reach out to the utility companies, and reach out to our contacts at the State level to make sure the interstate in our county is going to get the attention it needs," Walker said. "Mother Nature can bring you to your knees, so we want to have our plan in place."

The road pre-treatment and snow removal plan can be found online at the county website, catoosa.com.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.