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2013 Archived News for Harvey County Independent

Schools Have Tornado-Safe Rooms

Posted 5/28/2013

By Shelly Watkins

In light of the recent events in Moore, Okla., and the storm season being upon the Midwest, you may be wondering if your child’s school has a tornado safety plan.

At Halstead-Bentley USD 440, there is one storm shelter located in each building. Each room is a FEMA-certified storm shelter large enough to hold all of the students and staff of that building, according to school officials.

These shelters are rated to withstand 250-mph winds, which is an EF5 tornado. The storm shelters are designated to be school-use shelters, meaning that they are designed to be used during school time for the inhabitants of that building at the time. These shelters are not used as a community shelter because the district does not have a person on call all the time that would allow the shelters to be opened to the public.

At USD 440, the students and staff go through training several times a year, according to the state fire marshal guidelines. “The reason that our shelters are considered certified shelters is that when we had them built, we had restrooms installed in each shelter. That is one of the requirements to meet certification. That way if you are in the shelter for a length of time, you have access to the necessary facilities for personal safety and cleanliness,” said Superintendent Tom Alstrom.

For USD 439, the grade school has two safety classrooms to house all the children that were approved FEMA construction. These rooms were created when the district added on eight years ago. The 7-12 building is a different story as it is not FEMA approved, but the school does use block wall interior restrooms, locker rooms, and classrooms that are not next to exterior walls or windows for shelter during a storm.

Burrton school officials could not be reached for comment. The community shelter in Burrton is located at the First Christian Church in Burrton.

According to the National Weather Service it is imperative that you and your family have a plan in place for emergency situations such as a tornado. They are also suggesting the addition of safety helmets to all storm emergency kits along with bottled water and flashlights. The safest place to be is underground during a tornado such as a basement or if you are in a car, find a deep ditch or a culvert but these may not always be an option. In the city of Halstead, the community shelter is the Mennonite Church.

Storms are predictable up to a point, beyond that it is up to Mother Nature. The schools in the area all have storm procedures in place but not all shelters are FEMA approved storm shelters. 

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Group From  Harvey County Works In Storm-Damaged Oklahoma

Posted 5/28/2013

Joseph Wolfenberger and Alex Ruhter haul away what’s left of a destroyed fence.

Editor’s note: Morgan Reeves of Hesston traveled with a Newton-based Christian youth group Saturday to help tornado victims in Moore, Okla.

By Morgan Reeves

MOORE, Okla. – This past Saturday I went down to the devastated community of Moore, Okla., to help out. The young adults ministry I attend in Newton, Bonfire Ministries, had a group of 10 young adults who volunteered to go and serve for the day.

 On the trip down there I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never been to an area that had been struck with such tragedy. Our group didn’t have much of a plan; we just knew we wanted to help out anyway we could. Bonfire Ministries had collected supplies donated by the community at the Wal-Mart in Newton. We knew we wanted to give those supplies to people in need.

Once we were getting close to our destination, we contacted Church of the Harvest, which is located in Moore. At the church, an organization called Service International was there assigning volunteer groups to sites all around Moore. They had us fill out a little paperwork, gave us Disaster Relief Volunteer shirts, and sent us out to where we were needed. It was incredibly organized and I was very impressed with how smoothly it went.

To read more, see this week's print edition.

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Cannons Part Of Burrton Memorial Day

Posted 5/28/2013

Colton Ediger, left, and Avery Ediger helped fire the Memorial Day cannons Monday.
By Robb  Reeves

BURRTON – One of the interesting features of the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Burrton Cemetery is the volley.

Many area celebrations use an honor guard that is armed with military rifles that fire blanks. In Halstead, for example, the honor guard fired blanks out of 1903 Springfield bolt action rifles Monday.

In Burrton, the honor guard held M-1 Garand rifles but the volley came from small cannons. Burrton resident George Rayal brings those cannons to the celebration each year.

To read more, see this week's edition.

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USD 440 Takes Strides Toward Better Health

Posted 5/28/2013

WINNERS of the final wellness challenge were Cory Harrington, Joell Matlack, and Bret Talbot.By Shelly Watkins

HALSTEAD – This past school year USD 440 employees participated in a health and wellness challenge that ended in a free barbecue.

The challenge came from Superintendent Tom Alstrom.

 “This year’s wellness activities included a weight loss competition. We then hosted the great barbecue challenge in which the goal was to have a team of three walk or run to Kansas City in six weeks. All teams made the goal and as a district we logged 9,715 miles during the six-week period. The winning team of Harrington, Talbot and Matlack logged 1199.85 miles to take the prize,” said Alstrom.

Teams kept track of how many miles they ran or walked during the period.

The purpose of presenting the challenge was to excite the staff and make them more conscious of their efforts toward a healthy life. “We did the great K.C. barbecue walk off. Part of the goal was to get our staff active this spring as we know that wellness of the staff is important to performance and costs to the district. This is the third project we have done this spring to increase the health and wellness of the staff here at USD 440,” said Alstrom.

To read more, see this week's edition.

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