Clinton County representatives will work to ensure people have a cool place to escape the heat.
Clinton County Board of Supervisor Jill Davisson on Thursday asked other board members and Emergency Management Coordinator Chance Kness about the possibility of using the County Administration building in Clinton as a cooling center. She said the county has opened the building’s restrooms and cafeteria to citizens before because of the heat. She wondered if they should do it again with the high temperature conditions expected this weekend and next week.
The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a warning that hot and humid conditions are expected to spread through the area early this weekend and into next week. Temperatures will be in the 90-degree range and will be accompanied by high humidity, resulting in heat indexes of 100 to 110 degrees. Nighttime temperatures will be in the 70s. The NWS predicts the heat conditions will become oppressive Sunday and continue to at least Tuesday night. Prolonged periods of excessive heat and humidity will increase the risk of heat-related illness.
Questions arose about the possibility of what would be required to keep the building open past office hours. The board discussed whether or not extra workers would need to be hired or if overtime pay would be required. Kness pointed out that people should not be unattended in a county building that houses a great deal of records.
Kness felt it would not be cost effective to open up the building. He said besides the cost of personnel, the county would also have the additional cost of keeping the air conditioning in the building at the safe level as during work hours. Davisson said while they want to be cost effective, they do not want anyone in the area to get sick. She pointed out that the Clinton area does not have a mall similar to bigger cities where people can escape the heat.
The Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross does have cooling centers in the area. Kness said the organization has agreements with churches and other places that would be more cost effective for this purpose. He will speak to the Gateway Area Chapter’s Executive Director Amber Wood about where people can go.
Kness recommended they establish guidelines on what is excessive heat. He said a high temperature would not be enough. They would have to consider the humidity as well. He said they should set a heat index point where people can use the administration building as a cooling center during business hours. After 4:30 p.m., people would have to find an alternative cooling center.
Kness said the county could look into opening a more cost-effective building.