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Its time to think weather safety
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March began with the Annual Severe Weather Awareness Week being observed March 4-8, Barton County Emergency Management Director Amy Miller reported to the County Commission Monday morning.
Storm Fury on The Plains, the severe weather safety and storm spotters meeting, was held on March 7 at the Crest Theatre in Great Bend. The program, presented by Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist, from the Wichita office of the National Weather Service, was attended by 235 individuals.
Then, severe weather on April 14 produced the only tornado in the state of Kansas in 2012 to be classified as violent, an EF4. It ultimately traveled 50 miles from Rice County into Ellsworth, McPherson and Saline counties.
“Be aware, be prepared,” she said in the bi-weekly department update read by County Administrator Richard Boeckman at the meeting. If a family or a business did not review and discuss their severe weather safety plans at that time, Miller encourages you to do so as soon as possible.
With this in mind, on March 28, Miller participated in a tabletop exercise with the Central Kansas Regional Public Health group. This exercise provided participants the opportunity to discuss plans for sustaining essential public health services during a natural disaster, utilizing the Incident Command System for such an event, and evaluating emergency communications strategies.
On March 20, Amy Miller, Emergency Management Director, attended a tabletop exercise for the Larned State Hospital. The tabletop was designed to review current policies at the facility with staff and outside agencies and to test communication capabilities of attending agencies. Exercises are an important tool for emergency management in both the public and private sector. Exercises allow for discussion on policies and procedures before an event occurs, allow for review of emergency plans, practice recent training and improve communication between agencies, cities and counties.
Anyone with questions about severe weather preparations can contact Miller at 620-793-1919.
In other update news:
County Clerk Donna Zimmerman
Boeckman said County Clerk Donna Zimmerman reported her office had conducted the April 2 city/school/college /hospital district election, with a special question for the creation of a joint recreation commission for the City of Ellinwood and Unified School District 355. There were a total of 2,843 ballots cast from the 17,314 possible registered voters, or a 16.42 percent voter turnout.
In addition, the office is performing post-election electronic equipment testing and maintenance.
• Zimmerman continues to plan for the Kansas County Clerks’ and Election Officials’ Association Annual Conference to be held in Manhattan this May. Zimmerman serves as president of the organization.
• The National Change of Address program requiring confirmation mailings for voters having had a change of address is underway.
• Work continues to reconcile motor vehicle tax information as it is exported from the MOVRS system.

Health Director Lily Akings
There were 199 total clinic contacts in the last reporting period. These included:
• Immunizations, 91
• Family planning, 50
• Healthy Start HV, 13
• Tuberculosis, 18
• Sexually transmitted infections, 9
• Maternal and Infant, 9
• Communicable disease, 3
Akings went on to report nearly one in five teen births are repeat births. In 2010, of the approximately 365,000 teen births, 66,800 were repeat births. “These repeat teen births can severely limit a mother’s ability to finish her education or get a job and carry substantial health, emotional, social and financial costs for herself and her children,” she said. The Centers for Disease Control provides guidelines for healthcare professionals to counsel sexually active teens on the most effective types of birth control and resources for parents to talk to their teens about preventing repeat pregnancies.