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EXTREME COLD SPELL PUTS COUNTY ON EDGE

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Record breaking temperatures descended upon Hamilton County last weekend. 

Livestock producers hurriedly prepared as best they could but no one was prepared for temperatures like -20 degrees and with the wind chill, -35 degrees.

Emergency Management was in touch with the Sheriff’s Department and the Hamilton County Hospital to prepare them for possible rolling blackouts. 

Most farmers and ranchers moved their animals to barns with extra food, extra hay and warm heat lamps. One rancher warmed a newborn baby in his pickup. 

On Monday February 15th, the temperature was  recorded at -26. Matt Gerard of the US National Weather Service in Dodge City reported the record for February 15 was in 2007 when the temperature was -14. Water lines froze. 

The Governor declared a state of emergency and the state of Kansas was asked to conserve energy 

The Dikeman family have horses. Amy Dikeman said, “Horses are more likely to get colic in severe weather  in part because they don’t drink enough. We are breaking water three times a day and put blankets on them. We have extra feed for our cattle as well. We are hauling water more and added more straw to the dog houses.  So far it’s been good. I see  the animals playing, rolling and loving it.”

Caitlyn Horton moved a sow into the heated shop to farrow. “We couldn’t keep our barn warm enough. But other than that everything is doing fine!”

Katie Eason, Cattle Manager at Winner Circle Feed Yard reports the cattle are doing well in the yard with the recent extreme temperatures. Last fall, in anticipation of the upcoming winter,  they begin preparation for the cold temperatures and snow by making sure generators are working properly and securing an alternate feed source, should they have mechanical issues. 

During the recent extreme temperatures, they have made sure the cattle have dry bedding, enough food and access to clean, fresh, water. All their water tanks have heaters and a steady flow of water so there is less ice chopping. “Monday morning, with - 25,degrees there was a certain amount of ice chopping,” explained Eason. .

A fire occured on the west side of town in a trailer house on Nott Street. The pipes froze and the family tried to thaw the frozen pipes.  City Fire Chief David Stimatze said, “People need to be careful when thawing frozen pipes. Watch for nearby wood or insulation.And don’t leave the scene unattended.”

Thankfully the fire was small.

Rolling blackouts began Monday but didn’t effect Hamilton County. On Monday evening the usage had dropped thanks to everyone’s conservation. But the night was cold and long. 

On Tuesday morning  the energy level increased to an emergency level 3. Pioneer Electric, which feeds some of the southern portion of the county, had begun theirs. Wheatland Electric put out notice that they would begin as well. The rolling blackouts were 30 to 60 minutes in durantion. However if the power in your area was out for longer than 90 minutes, you were encouraged to call your electric company.

Local schools did their part and shut down Monday and Tuesday. They returned on Wednesday but with energy levels going up and down, it remains to be seen how it will go. 

Ernie Battin, Farm Service Agency reminds area dairy and livestock producers to be aware of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) available through the Farm Service Agency.  LIP provides assistance to eligible livestock owners for livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather, disease and eligible animal attacks.  Livestock must be maintained for commercial purposes. Read  his full article on page 9. 

Atmos Energy asked for the public’s assistance in  conserving energy. They asked large consumers of electricity to consider shutting down or reducing non-essential production processes. They asked residents to lower thermostats to at least 68 degrees. And consider wearing additional layers of clothing. They asked for you to refrain from using large appliances like boilers, washers, dryers, ovens, and dishwashers for the next few days. Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees, because it can account for as much as 25 percent of the energy consumed in your building. Reduce shower time and avoid baths. Showering accounts for about 40 percent of your building’s hot water use. Unplug electronic devices and turn off lights that are not in use. By conserving electricity, you are also helping to conserve natural gas which keeps the power on.

Thankfully the damage to livestock and water lines has been minimal. 

City Administrator Brian Bloyd reports they had one water meter freeze and replaced.

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