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Keep an eye on the sky
County recognizes severe weather week
new deh county commission siren pic
Pictured is the storm siren atop the Great Bend Police Department. This is Severe Weather Awareness Week and this siren and others will sound at 6:30 p.m. today as part of the statewide tornado drill. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

 In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:

• Approved the Barton County Health Department’s annual applications for state and federal grants. Health Director Shelly Schneider said it has been a busy time at the department as the staff has scrambled to apply for the annual grants as well as try to find others to seek.

The grant requests include:

• Child care licensing program, $34,285.02

• Chronic disease risk reduction, $56,4 11.47

• Family planning, $52,208.02

• Immunization action plan, $5,629.00

• Developmental and child health, $ 9,798.12

• Pregnancy maintenance initiative, $13,939.36

• Public health emergency preparedness, $23,748

• Regional public health emergency preparedness, $39,583

• Special health care needs, $ 25,000.00

• State formula, $ 18,646.00

• Teen pregnancy targeted case management, $16,564.91

The total was $365,812.90. However, that included the entire $39,583 Regional public health emergency preparedness grant. That grant is split among Barton, McPherson, Pawnee, Rice, Saline and Stafford counties.

 Spring-like weather has arrived sooner than normal this year, meaning there is a possibility that the spring storm season may arrive earlier as well, Barton County Emergency Manager A my Miller told the Barton County Commission Monday morning.

In recognition of that, the commission approved a proclamation denoting this as Severe Weather Awareness Week. The observance is a cooperative effort of the National Weather Service in Wichita, the Kansas Emergency Management Association and county emergency directors around the state.  

“Barton County Emergency Management would like to remind everyone to be prepared for the spring severe weather season,” said Emergency Manager Amy Miller. The proclamation encourages individuals, businesses and communities to plan and prepare for an emergency. 

“Being prepared isn’t just about tornadoes and hurricanes and uber big events,” Miller said. “Being prepared is about every day.”

Sure, there were 126 twisters in Kansas last year, but most of the damage came from flooding and straight-line winds, she said. Other threats can come from ice storms and fires.

She also reminded residents to take part in the annual statewide tornado drill tonight. In a change from years gone by, the sirens will sound at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. In the past, the drill has taken place in the afternoon.

In addition to the sirens sounding,Great Bend police officers will run their tornado warning routes throughout the city. 

Also, starting at noon Tuesday, March 22, the city will initiate its weekly siren testing. Weather permitting, the sirens will sound briefly each Tuesday.

The test will only take place if the weather is nice. If the skies are threatening, the test will be postponed.

“The drill is being held at 6:30 p.m. this year to encourage everyone to develop a safety plan for their homes and to discuss it with their family members,” Miller said.

Officers will not be running their routes during these events.

To encourage Kansans to be prepared, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation Feb. 26 designating March 14-18 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas.

During the week, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management officials urge Kansans to check their emergency kit supplies for their home, office and vehicle, and review their emergency plans to make sure they are prepared for whatever severe weather occurs.