O’Mary: City to look at warming station

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 1/3/18

Jasper Mayor David O’Mary says a city warming station is likely to be discussed at Friday’s work session of the Jasper City Council.

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O’Mary: City to look at warming station


Jasper Mayor David O’Mary says a city warming station is likely to be discussed at Friday’s work session of the Jasper City Council.

“It is on our front burner, but I don’t have a lot of answers at this point,” O’Mary said Tuesday.

O’Mary said no major problems have been reported to him from police, fire or street officials about weather problems over the past several days. However, he said talk has circulated about what the city could do for a permanently designated warming station for when bitter cold weather develops.

“We’re going to look at that and probably talk about it Friday in our work session — do we as a city need to have a warming center and where does it need to be and how do you staff it, and that sort of thing,” he said, adding he does not have the answers to all those questions at this time.

He said the current weather is “atypical” of what residents are used to. He said the city could not be prepared to have such a severe cold snap over an extended period of time.

“I am certainly sympathetic to people who do not have a warm place to stay, and we need to help any way that we can,” he said. “But we need to be smart about how we go about this.” 

O’Mary said at least one church so far has expressed an interest in an agreement with the city for a warming station, but he said he does not know if that makes sense.

He made an inquiry Tuesday morning to find out what city-owned facility would be available which has restroom facilities.

He said the former Fraternal Order of Police facility in the Memorial Park area belongs to the FOP but it is on the city’s land, and the city pays its utility bills. It is heated consistently and is an open, ClearSpan building, with a large parking area.

“There may be a way to partner with the Salvation Army or the (American) Red Cross to staff it,” he said. “We just need to think through that and be prepared.” 

The problem with the Jasper Civic Center is that it is normally closed at the end of the day unless someone has rented it.

“That does not have zoned heating and cooling in it, I’m pretty sure. If you kept it open all night, you would have to heat and cool the whole facility. It might not be a good candidate for a warming center,” he said.

City officials would only be considering a warming center, not for a tornado shelter.

“EMS folks have had some discussions about churches opening their facilities at times when we are threatened with tornadoes. I have a meeting with that group next week, and I am sure that will come up. But right now our focus is on what plan we have in place for a warming center that can be somewhat centrally located to serve our city,” O’Mary said.