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Exceptional drought disaster declared

County is continuing its burning ban

POSTED July 18, 2011 2:07 p.m.

“Exceptional drought” is creeping closer to Barton County every day that it continues to be over 100 degrees and no rain.
National officials have declared drought conditions for the southern half of the nation and as of last week, those showed exceptional drought — the worst intensity listed — approaching the Great Bend of the Arkansas River.
Local officials are fully aware of the drought conditions, and on Monday the Barton County Commission continued the local ban on burning for the county.
Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller noted that the conditions are already bringing damage to the region.
Most county fire departments had to respond to brush fires last week and conditions have certainly not improved.
Great Bend Fire Chief Mike explained earlier that agricultural burning can still be carried out, but only with the specific permission of the area fire chief.
Even before it got blistering hot, this part of the nation was lacking in moisture and national officials are reacting.
Miller noted she received word recently that Barton and other counties in this part of the state can get help from the Small Business Administration.
According to information from the SBA, “small, non-farm businesses in 49 Kansas counties and neighboring counties in Nebraska and Oklahoma may now apply for low-interest disaster loans.”
“These disaster loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought, excessive heat and high winds that began January 1, 2011 in the following 25 primary Kansas counties,” according to Alfred E. Judd, Director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center West.
Primary Kansas counties: Barber, Barton, Butler, Clark, Comanche, Cowley, Edwards, Ellis, Ford, Graham, Gray, Harper, Harvey, Hodgeman, Kingman, Lincoln, Norton, Phillips, Reno, Rice, Russell, Sedgwick, Stafford, Sumner and Trego;
Neighboring Kansas counties: Chase, Chautauqua, Decatur, Elk, Ellsworth, Finney, Gove, Greenwood, Haskell, Kiowa, Marion, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Ness, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pratt, Rooks, Rush, Saline, Sheridan and Smith;
Neighboring Nebraska counties: Furnas and Harlan;
Neighboring Oklahoma counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Grant, Harper, Kay, Osage and Woods.
Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.
Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U. S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, in drought disasters nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance.
Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure Web site at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Information and application forms are available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. The deadline to apply for these loans is Feb. 23, 2012.

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