Commissioners hear of storm season preparations

Michelle Abbott-Becker, county emergency preparedness director, announced Monday that next week will be ?National Severe Weather Awareness Week,? and informed commissioners about several area events taking place to help celebrate the week.

A state-wide tornado drill will be held twice March 14, Becker said.

?We act like it is an actual event,? she said. ?We can?t really say the time because we want people to think of it as an actual event.?

Although she would not indicate a specific time, Becker did say the drill would be once during the day, when most citizens of the county are likely to be either at work or school, and once later in the evening, when people are home.

?We do it this way because it gives people a chance to experience it in both environments,? she said. ?This drill is done so you know what to do at work and at home and for kids at school and at home.?

A storm-spotter training session will be held at the Hillsboro Scout House at 7 p.m. March 20.

?(Tornados) are a year-round event now,? Becker said. ?We?ve had them as early as March and as late as October. Our goal this year is for the cities to post in the post office where people can go in case of bad weather.?

Becker also said there would be a listing given to the county newspapers listing all the sites for each city in the county.

Becker also announced she will be taking more EPO classes Thursday through Saturday.

In other action from the commission meeting:

— It was announced the new ambulance for the city of Tampa is ready to be delivered. Treasurer Carol Maggard said a check would be held until the next meeting.

— Sales tax for February was as high as it has been since 1995. Last month generated $46,140.82 for Marion County after a decline in January. Last year, February sales tax totaled $36,293.71.

1999 year-end totals were also at their peak since 1995.

— The county renewed its Dental Insurance Plan, and announced rates will go down 3 percent from last year. Janet Lancaster of Blue Cross/Blue Shield said the average dental plans have gone up around the state by 5.5 percent.

The plan was renewed by a 2-0 vote. Commission chair Linda Peterson was at another meeting for the county.

— The road and bridge department announced it has begun to tear up the North Tampa Road but will need calcium chloride to finish the project.

The company which generally furnishes the calcium chloride in Wichita is closed for the winter.

Department director Gerald Kelsey said if the company opens before the treatment of the road begins, cost of calcium chloride will rise from 40 cents per gallon to 47 cents.

But if the company does not re-open, the county would have to go to Tulsa to get the necessary 75,000 gallons, costing an extra $6,000.

Kelsey said he would check into the cost of using another product and report to the commissioners before any decision is made.

— Rollin Schmidt and David Brazil presented an idea for a ?Waste Tire Amnesty Program? in which the county would dispose of used tires. Schmidt and Brazil will head the operation and will meet Tuesdays and Saturdays when the project begins.

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