Monday, January 31, 2011

Health Dept. urges caution during winter storm

A winter storm warning is in effect for the Phelps and Maries County area beginning today at 6 pm.  Ice, heavy snow and cold weather are expected.  The Phelps/Maries County Health Department would like to remind people that cold weather and precipitation can create health and safety risks.  Reduce the risk of injury and keep yourself and your loved ones safe by taking time to prepare for these winter weather conditions.

·     Be safe while outdoors in winter elements.  Avoid ice covered walkways due to risk of falling.  To avoid falling, wear snow boots, take short steps and use hand rails for balance, when possible.
      Prepare an emergency kit in case you become stranded in your vehicle, cover your body with extra clothing and remain in your vehicle. (

·    Avoid driving, if possible.  If necessary, drive with caution and avoid travelling on ice-covered roads, overpasses and bridges.  Most injuries and deaths related to winter storms occur from vehicle or transportation related accidents.

·    Limit outdoor time during extreme cold temperatures and monitor for signs of frostbite or hypothermia.  Layer clothing with loose-fitting lightweight items.  Dress warm and stay dry.  Wear a hat, scarf and mittens. 

·    Know the warning signs for hypothermia, an abnormally low body temperature.  Continued exposure to cold temperatures can cause confusion, drowsiness, clumsiness, and exhaustion.  Do not ignore shivering.  Shivering is a sign that the body is losing heat.  If shivering persists, go indoors.
·     Know the signs and symptoms for frostbite, or injury to the body caused by freezing.  Frostbite mostly affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes.  Signs include tingling and numbness, white or grayish yellow areas of skin, and skin that feels waxy.

·     Tasks such as shoveling snow, pushing stranded vehicles or even walking can cause exhaustion and overexertion leading to heart attacks.  Close attention to physical health, weather conditions and the stress associated with the task should be considered prior to performing such tasks.
·    Practice proper fire safety precautions: never leave a fire unattended; use space heaters according to manufacturer’s instructions, and ensure your home is protected with a working smoke detector.
·    Check on family, friends and neighbors that could be at high risk of cold related injury or illness including elderly, those that are fighting an illness and people that do not have access to adequate heat.

·    Provide proper shelter for pets.  If pets or livestock must remain outdoors, provide fresh water and food supplies on a regular basis.

  • For more information visit or contact the Phelps/Maries County Health Department at (573) 458-6010 or (800) 301-4942.

Sesquicentennial Kick-Off well attended

History was made in Rolla, Missouri on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 when more than 300 members of the community attended Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Kick-Off and 150th Birthday Celebration in Castelman Lounge at The Centre, Rolla’s health and recreation facility. 

Once in a life-time historic milestone events such as the City’s 150th Birthday should not be forgotten or go unnoticed, and the City is thankful that so many individuals worked together to help make the event on Jan. 25, 2011 such an historic and memorable community event. A special thanks goes first and foremost to the residents of Rolla and the many individuals who make up our unique community; former and present members of the Rolla City Council; the employees at The Centre and Parks and Recreation Department who set up for and helped host the Sesquicentennial Kick-Off; the Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee; Jeff Sandquist, Rolla Public Schools Choir Director and members of the Rolla High School Chamber Choir and Rolla Choral Arts Society Jazz Choir; Pastor Gary Teague, Apostolic Pentecostal Church; St. James Mayor Dennis Wilson; Phelps County Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp; key-note speaker, Dr. Donald B. Oster, Associate Professor Emeritus, Missouri University of Science & Technology; Angi Yowell, Graphic Design Instructor, Rolla Technical Institute, the winner of the Sesquicentennial Logo Contest; the Rolla Chamber Ambassadors; and members of the Rolla Police Department who provided traffic and crowd control for the event. I would also like to thank former Mayor Floyd Ferrell who shared his scrap book from his many years as Mayor of Rolla at the event. It was one of the highlights of the evening. 

Please don’t forget to mark your calendar for Rolla’s day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration that will be held on Saturday, June 4 in conjunction with Route 66 Summerfest in downtown Rolla. The members of the Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee have been meeting monthly since November 2010 to plan numerous events, including a Sesquicentennial parade at 10 a.m. on Pine Street, official program at the bandshell, historic re-enactments, living history, a Walk Through History, numerous old-time crafters and a special ceremony to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the old Phelps County Courthouse.

In preparation for the Rolla Sesquicentennial Parade, the Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee is looking for 15 community groups, service organizations, churches, etc., to help organize one decade of Rolla history.  Each group that organizes a decade of Rolla history will be responsible to help the Rolla Sesquicentennial Committee solicit parade entries that represent your particular decade.  For example, if you chose the decade of the 1950s you would be looking for 1950s cars and trucks, a hula hoop exhibition, an Elvis look alike, etc. Decades will be given out on a first come first serve basis, so please get your group together early to help on this very worthwhile project. To get involved, please contact Larry Stratman at 364-329 or Amy Campbell, Tourism Director at the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, at 364-3577. For more information regarding Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on June 4, please visit the City of Rolla’s Website at
   Have a safe week!


More investment coming to downtown Rolla

Rolla’s downtown area continues to undergo resurgence in residential and commercial development with yet another renovation of a major building by local real estate developer and entrepreneur Dale Wands.

The Rolla City Council gave Wands the green light at Tuesday’s City Council meeting where a request was made by Dale and his wife, Sara Wands to rezone the property at 600 North Elm Street (corner of 6th and Elm Streets) from C-3 (highway commercial district) zoning to C-C (center city district) zoning. The property is in the process of being demolished and prepared for redevelopment so the owners can use it for commercial as well as residential uses. The Wands said in their request for rezoning that they are planning to develop multi-family residential uses in the second story level, but do not have definite plans for the street level portions of the property.

In addition, the City Council also gave the green light to the Miner Alumni Association to rezone the property at 400 West 10th Street (directly to the north of 11th Street, between Pine and Elm Streets) to construct a new building to be used by the Miner Alumni Association for meetings and office space. The Miner Alumni Association purchased the property to be near Missouri S&T, and their location off Pine Street will bring even more activity to the growing downtown area.

Continued investment in the City’s downtown area, along with the revitalization of several large buildings  in  Rolla’s downtown business district, have made a big impact on the visual appearance of these structures, and provide a catalyst for other businesses, restaurants, and shops to relocate to Rolla’s city center. The Public Brewing House recently opened its doors for business on Rolla Street, and Alex’s Pizza Palace is currently expanding its well-known restaurant on 8th Street – both signs that the downtown area is a vibrant and attractive location for new businesses, retail shops and restaurants to expand and locate.

A lot of the development that is occurring in Rolla’s downtown area is a result of the planning, research and discussion regarding the future revitalization of Rolla’s Downtown Business District by the Rolla Downtown Business Association (RDBA), City of Rolla Community Development Department, Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC), and Engineering Management students at Missouri S&T who have been very helpful in many of their research and marketing efforts for the downtown area. The City of Rolla’s D.R.E.A.M. (Downtown Revitalization Economic Assistance Missouri) designation last year also reflects the importance and significance of the City’s downtown area and the potential it has to become even more of a destination area in the months and years to come.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that later this summer, a day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration will be held on Saturday, June 4, 2011 in conjunction with Route 66 Summerfest in downtown Rolla, Missouri. The celebration will kick off with a Sesquicentennial Parade at 10 a.m. on Pine Street. Following the parade, the Sesquicentennial Program begins at 11:30 a.m. at the downtown bandshell. Later that afternoon at 2 p.m. Sesquicentennial festivities will continue with historical re-enactments, a living history demonstration and lots of historic exhibits, crafters, displays and tours of the pre-Civil War old Phelps County Courthouse, and the 1857 John A. Dillon Log Cabin. If you or a community organization is interested in participating in Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Parade or hosting one of the decades, please contact Aimee Campbell, Director of Tourism, Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce, at 364-3577.
   Have a safe week!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 567 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 21 arrests, 14 alarms, 22 accidents, 36 traffic complaints, 88 traffic stops, 13 disturbance calls (including domestics), 11 suspicious nature calls, 22 assists of other agencies, 57 911 hang up calls, 7 check the well being requests, 24 animal control calls, 16 stealing calls, 16 escorts, 33 security checks, and 2 intoxicated person calls. This call total is down 16 calls from last week. Better, but yet another busy week!
From our Communications Division: Congratulations to Communications Supervisor Stacey Smith. Stacey is our communications training coordinator and has recently developed and submitted 5 lesson plans for 9-1-1 telecommunicator training courses for certification. Course titles are: “The Dreaded... Call - Crisis Intervention”, “Excited Delirium for Dispatchers”, “Tech – Jeopardy” and “Share the Wealth and Service with a Smile”. Today she received notification that the Missouri 911 Oversight Committee approved all 5 courses! These courses are being taught as part of our compliance with the State of Missouri's mandated telecommunicator certification. Her hard work, attention to detail and dedication to the profession is certainly evident. Way to go Stayce!
Last week we welcomed back former Animal Control Officer Kathleen McMeen who accepted a temporary re-assignment from her position at the Recreation Centre to fill in at the Animal Control Shelter. Kathleen filled in temporarily until a full time replacement could be hired. The full time position was posted and as it turned out, Kathleen was our only applicant and of course, the best applicant, so we offered her the position. Kathleen has accepted and will start full time this Sunday. Please stop in and welcome her back. Kathleen will be working with veteran Animal Control Officers Roy Taylor, part-time animal shelter associate Katie Strawbridge and Animal Control Supervisor John Redshaw. Welcome back Kathleen!
Last week, Representatives from Rolla Police Department Behind the Badge group accepted donations from local citizens who held a benefit raffle that took place over the weekend. Josie Naikoi and Anthony Vandiver, upon witnessing the devastation of the New Years Eve tornado, took it upon themselves to organize a benefit raffle. Soliciting local businesses for donations, they hosted an evening event that garnered over $2,300 for tornado victims. Behind the Badge is a non-profit organization (not a 501c3) accepting donations on behalf of the Phelps County tornado victims. 100% of the money accepted will go directly to the victims. The event was attended by hundreds of participants! Great job guys! This is just one more example of the outstanding community spirit shared in the Rolla community.
In closing, I would like to mention that S/Sgt. Rick Williams is the Region 6 Area Coordinator on the Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee of Special Olympics – Missouri and coordinates all of our fundraising efforts in support of our Special Olympic athletes. Each year the Rolla Police Department takes part in several events to not only raise money but to also raise awareness of how great a program Special Olympics is for those who suffer disabilities. The Rolla Police Department begins the year with torch run t-shirt sales in January. Then in the May, we host actual Law Enforcement Torch Run followed by our annual Trivia Night in October of each year and will be proud to do so again in 2011. The Rolla Police Department is a proud member of the Torch Run Club which is comprised of law enforcement agencies across Missouri who have raised over $1,000.00 each year for Special Olympics. The contributing agencies have the proud distinction of having the agencies name of the back of the Torch Run t-shirts each year. The Rolla Police Department has been a member of the Torch Club each year since 1993. If you would like to take a look at the 2011 Torch Run t-shirts or are interested in purchasing the same, contact S/Sgt. Rick Williams at the Rolla Police Department at 308-1213. The cost of the shirts is $10 for the short-sleeve shirts and $15 for the long-sleeve. This year the short sleeve shirt is offered in “Cardinal” red! Help us help the athletes!

Chief Mark Kearse

Friday, January 21, 2011

Entries needed for Rolla's Sesquicentennial Parade on June 4

    In preparation for the Rolla Sesquicentennial Parade, which will be held during Rolla’s day-long Sesquicentennial Celebration on Saturday, June 4, at 10 a.m., individual and group entries for the City's 150th Anniversary parade are welcome and encouraged.
    The theme of the parade is "Rolla-Then and Now", and will consist of the many decades that make up the City's past 150 years as a community.
   To register for your chance to 'make history' and participate in this 'once in a lifetime' Rolla parade during Rolla's 150th Anniversary, please contact parade co-chairs Larry Stratman at 364-3291 or Amy Campbell at 364-3577.
   For more information regarding Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Celebration on June 4, please visit the City of Rolla’s Website and click on the 'Rolla's 150th' tab button at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rolla’s Parks Dept. opens parking lot for sledding in Ber Juan Park

   To allow easy access to the sledding opportunities on the east slopes of Ber Juan Park, the City of Rolla’s Parks and Recreation Department re-opened the parking lot at Farrar Drive and 14th Street.
   The gate to the plowed parking area will be open for as long as weather conditions are appropriate for sledding.
   “The steep slopes on the east side of Ber Juan Park make a great place for the public to sled and play in the snow,” said Ken Kwantes, Parks and Recreation Director. “The parking lot makes it easier for folks to use this area of the park for sledding when snow conditions allow.”  
   For the latest information on park use conditions in the City of Rolla, please call the Parks and Recreation hotline at 364-0847.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Backyard Birder Seminar to be offered at the Centre Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.

Join Audubon Birding Activities Coordinator and experienced birder Mike Doyen for a fun seminar designed to help beginning birders get started bird watching. The Backyard Birder seminar will teach you to identify 25 of the most common back yard birds in the Rolla area as well as the best foods and feeders that will help attract birds.

The seminar will be held in Meeting Room “A” at The Centre (1200 N. Holloway St. in Rolla) Wednesday, Jan. 19 from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. There will be a second seminar held Wednesday, Feb. 16, also at The Centre. This is a free seminar and  open to anyone interested in learning about local birds.

For more information about this seminar or the Ozarks River Chapter of the National Audubon Society contact Mike Doyen at 364-0020 or via e-mail at Information can also be obtained from the Rolla Parks & Recreation Department at 341-2386 or via e-mail at

Mayor Jenks recognizes contributions of long-time City officials for service to City and Rolla community

groupRolla Mayor Bill Jenks, III, and members of the Rolla City Council, recognized and thanked three long-time City officials during the Dec. 20, 2010 Rolla City Council meeting held at Rolla City Hall.  
Pictured (l to r) are: Mayor Bill Jenks; Bill Hickle, Rolla Municipal Judge; Dr. James Stoffer, President, Rolla Board of Public Works; and John Beger (of Beger and Bushie, LLC), Rolla City Attorney. Together, Judge Hickle, Dr. Stoffer and John Beger served the City of Rolla and its citizens for over 72 years. They were each presented with a commemorative plaque by Mayor Jenks on behalf of the Rolla City Council. (Scott Grahl/City of Rolla photo)
Judge Hickle, who served as Rolla Municipal Judge for over 14 years, was recently elected as Phelps County's Associate Circuit Judge. John Beger (of the Beger and Bushie Law Firm), who served as Rolla City Attorney for for over 15 years, was recently elected as Phelps County's new Prosecuting Attorney. Dr. James Stoffer, who served as President and long-time board member on the Rolla Board of Public Works, and the City's Planning and Zoning Commission for a combined total of 43 years, will be spending more time with his family.
The Rolla City Council, and the City of Rolla extends their appreciation and gratitude to Judge Hickle, John Beger and Dr. Stoffer for their many years of service and dedication to the citizens of Rolla.

Rolla Public Works Dept. to resume tree trimming in public right-of-way

Throughout the month of January and the winter months, a City of Rolla Public Works crew will be working their way through the city performing tree trimming tasks in the public right-of-way. Door hangers will be used to alert residents when tree trimming activities are planned for their area.

Trees that extend over the street and or sidewalk will be trimmed to allow safe clearance for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Trees extending over the street will be trimmed a distance back behind the curb two feet and to a height of 15 feet. Trees hanging over sidewalks will be trimmed to a height of 8 feet in line with the house side of the sidewalk.

While City crews will use accepted pruning practices where possible, they will not be able to enter private property to perform trimming tasks. The City’s main goals for performing tree trimming are to minimize safety hazards and provide proper clearance for vehicles and pedestrians.

The City recognizes that these trimming activities may not meet everyone’s sense of aesthetics or proper pruning techniques. As an alternative, property owners may perform an early trimming at their own expense. Property owners wishing to perform these tasks are asked to view the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Homeowners Tree Guide at: to better equip themselves with accepted and safe pruning techniques.

Residents with questions or requests for copies of the Homeowners Tree Guide may call the Public Works Department at 573-364-8659.

The Centre, andFLEW! Studios announce new partnership

The Centre, Rolla’s health and recreation complex, is excited to announce a new partnership with andFLEW! Studios in an effort to provide an expanded offering of fitness and dance fitness related classes at both facilities.

karenPictured at The Centre (l to r) are: Gessell Caudill, owner of andFLEW! Studios and Karen Richards, Fitness Supervisor at The Centre. (Scott Grahl/City of Rolla photo)
The classes, which begin the first week in January 2011, will be held at The Centre, located at 1200 N. Holloway Street and at andFLEW! Studios, located at 717 North Pine Street in downtown Rolla. Classes will include a wide array of fitness offerings, including Gentle Restorative Yoga, Yoga Basics, Yoga 101, Power Yoga, Kettlebell/Core Strength Yoga, Hot Power Yoga, Yoga Flow, Sunrise Bootcamp, Sunrise Yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi, Bollywood Fusion, Drop In Cycling and Short Circuit. Most classes are offered Monday through Saturday beginning as early as 5:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m.
The partnership was originated by Karen Richards, Fitness Supervisor at The Centre and Gessell Caudill, owner of andFLEW! Studios. “This is such an exciting and unique opportunity for both facilities to offer these classes to Centre members, andFLEW! Studios patrons, and the Rolla community,” said Richards. “The instructors of andFLEW! Studios’ expertise in dance and Yoga will be a huge benefit to our members, and andFLEW! patrons will have the opportunity to experience new fitness classes as well.”
“The Fitness staff at The Centre is looking forward to working with Gessell and her team of instructors on this new partnership,” said Richards.
For more information, please call The Centre at 341-2386, contact Karen Richards at, or contact Gessell Caudill at andFLEW! Studios at 426-3656 or

Rolla Sesquicentennial Kick-Off & 150th Birthday Celebration set for Jan. 25 at The Centre

City of Rolla, which was officially incorporated on Jan. 25, 1861, will be celebrating its 150th Birthday on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. To help commemorate and celebrate this important historic milestone in Rolla’s history, the public is invited and encouraged to attend the Rolla Sesquicentennial Kick-Off and 150th Birthday Celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. at The Centre in the Castelman Lounge (located at 1200 N. Holloway Street in Rolla).

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a 150th birthday cake and coffee social, followed by a welcome from by Rolla Mayor Bill Jenks, III. Former and present Rolla City Council members and Mayors are invited to attend the event, which will include remarks by Mayor Jenks; an invocation by Gary Teague, Pastor of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church; remarks by Phelps County Commissioner Randy Verkamp; key-note speaker Dr. Donald Ouster, Associate Professor Emeritus, Missouri S&T; recognition of Sesquicentennial Logo Contest winner, Angi Yowell, Graphic Design Instructor, Rolla Technical Institute; and a group photo that will be taken at 6 p.m. to commemorate the historic event.

The Sesquicentennial Kick-Off and 150th Birthday Celebration is being planned and coordinated by the members of the Rolla Sesquicentennial Planning Committee. For more information, please contact Scott Grahl, Chairman of Rolla’s Sesquicentennial Committee, and the City of Rolla’s Communications Officer, at 573-426-6943 or at More information is also available on the City of Rolla Website at

Friday, January 7, 2011

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 523 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 10 arrests, 12 accidents, 31 traffic complaints, 84 traffic stops, 19 disturbance calls (including domestics), 6 suspicious nature calls, 24 assists of other agencies, 43 911 hang up calls, 18 check the well being requests, 40 animal control calls, 12 stealing calls, 10 escorts, and 39 security checks. This call total is down 13 more calls from last week, which is a great improvement but still a very busy week!

On Friday, December 31, 2010 at approximately 9:22 a.m. the National Weather Service in Springfield issued a “tornado warning” for locations along the I-44 corridor including Ft. Leonard Wood, Phelps County and the City of Rolla. The storm cell responsible for the warning was very large and moving Northeast at approximately 45 mph. Central Dispatch received the warning notification and simultaneously contacted key personnel on our weather warning list and also activated our Early Warning System (EWS) which consists of 9 rotational outdoor emergency warning sirens and 1 fixed location siren. The City of Rolla EWS system is designed to warn city residents of impending severe weather that includes tornadoes and straight winds with speeds in excess of 75 mph. Our policy, restructured in 2007, states that “the City of Rolla will sound all emergency warning sirens upon receiving notification of a tornado “warning” or straight winds in excess of 75 mph” and will continue to sound the sirens until the threat is canceled!”

At approximately 9:45 a.m., Central Dispatch began receiving calls that the tornado had touched down at Ft. Leonard Wood and caused nearly total damage to a housing area. We then received a report of a similar sighting in the Doolittle area. Shortly after, callers reported seeing a funnel cloud touch down on White Columns Drive. Cpl. Adam Meyer was present in Central Dispatch and after hearing of the possibility of a funnel cloud here in town, called in other shifts of officers to assist. Officers were responding to areas where reported sightings for funnel clouds may have occurred. Fortunately no damage was incurred in these areas.

Upon receiving notification of the storm threat, Emergency Management Director, S/Sgt. Rick Williams reported to Central Dispatch to monitor the storm’s progression. As I was preparing to leave my residence to assist, I found myself staring directly at the tornado funnel cloud southeast of my residence. The funnel appeared to be a quarter of a mile from my residence traveling to the Northeast. When the cloud disappeared from sight I left my residence and traveled toward town to offer assistance. I soon learned that my county road was blocked by several downed trees and debris from areas along C.R. 8070 that had been ravaged by the storm. I joined several other motorists along that road who had begun clearing debris with the use of chainsaws and hand tools, and after about an hour I was able to get through. I traveled to the area of C.R. 8070 just north of Rolla and was shocked to see the totality of the damage wrought on those families along that road. I spent the next couple hours assisting citizens and other emergency crews while they checked for trapped residents and sought treatment for those injured and displaced.

I learned that the huge storm cell destined for Rolla, split into 2 smaller cells with one going north of Rolla and the second going south. While those of us in Rolla were very fortunate, the county residents living in those areas were not so lucky. Sadly there were 2 reported deaths from the area near Hwy HH, north of town and 2 more from the Lecoma area in Dent County. Upon arrival at the police department I checked in with Central Dispatch and learned that in addition to the 4 telecommunicators on duty at their 4 designated work stations, Communications Chief Paula Volkmer came in and was running errands from each work station. Communications Supervisor Scott Olds came in and was in a supervisor’s office fielding all business calls. My administrative assistant Kerri Shults was manning another phone trying to keep up with all the non-emergency questions. As you can imagine, the 4 on duty telecommunicators were up to their necks in 9-1-1 calls ranging from fatalities discovered in the tornado path, to vehicles traveling along I-44 that had been blown from the roadway due to high winds. Callers were reporting homes demolished, vehicles thrown about, missing family members, power outages, roadways blocked, injuries from flying debris and many other situations.

S/Sgt. Williams was present in Central Dispatch monitoring messages and imaging of the storm’s progress as provided by the National Weather Service. As it became clear that the City of Rolla was out of danger and that the storms had passed through without landing in Rolla, we focused our attention on assisting those emergency responders in the county that were assisting those affected by the destruction. Other than some isolated power outages and a defective traffic signal, Rolla went pretty well unscathed. Rolla Mayor Bill Jenks called in from the state of Florida for periodic updates and announced that he would be on the next plane to Rolla if needed. City Administrator John Butz called in from St. Louis where he was visiting an ill family member and also stated that he would be back in Rolla as soon as possible.

By 12:00 p.m. it seemed as if the brunt of the bad weather had passed through and that the citizens of Rolla had dodged a very severe bullet. While relieved that we did not incur what could have been a devastating situation, we are truly sorry that our Phelps county neighbors did not fare so well. Fortunately the ravished areas where quickly inundated with emergency responders from the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Phelps County Emergency Management Office, Rolla Rural Fire and Rescue, Rolla City Fire and Rescue, Phelps County Regional Medical Center EMS personnel, RMU and Inter-county Electric personnel, Phelps County and City of Rolla Highway Department crews, MoDot teams, civilian volunteers, rescue workers and faith based relief teams. Once again, we proved that in the time of need, the people of Phelps County come together swiftly and without question until the task is complete.

Among many other entities, our own Behind the Badge group teamed with Phelps County Emergency Management Director Sandy North and set up a fundraising campaign for the many storm related affected families. A PayPal account was set up and almost immediately, money began filtering in for the storm victims. To date, the group has collected over $2,200.00 and of that, 2 checks in the amount of $500.00 was donated to 2 needy families. If you would like to contribute to this relief campaign make checks payable to “Behind the Badge” and drop it by the Police Department or go to and type in the email address of  You may contribute by credit or debit card. We have received donations from local business, citizens, the St. James Ambulance District and even 2 Hurricane Katrina victims! If you or your family is in need of assistance as victims of these tornadoes, contact Phelps County Emergency Management Director Sandy North at 458-6000.

In regard to the activation of our EWS (warning sirens), we received many calls and comments from citizens from both within the city and county residents in close proximity of the sirens, of how they owe their lives to the warning provided by this system. Several residents stated that they had no clue severe weather was approaching and were shocked into awareness by the sirens. We are very fortunate to have this system in place and will continue to try to find ways to keep our citizens kept up to date on severe weather and other emergencies. Our current system, although still reliable has some components over 30 years old. We have every intention of replacing the worn equipment as soon as the need arises but with a cost of nearly $20,000.00 per siren you can see why this is a concern. Our EWS system is an “outdoor” warning system designed to alert residents who are outdoors away from television, radio, weather radios and other media, of impending severe weather. In most locations, residents are able to hear the sirens from inside their homes but this is hindered by tight soundproof doors and windows, inside noises such as televisions, stereos, blower motors and other sounds.

Ours is not a perfect system and we are continually searching for better ways to keep the public informed. Quite surprisingly, even during a tornado, our Facebook site was yet another tool to “get the word out to the masses!” We had several Facebook fans comment on how they learned of the danger on our site. With that in mind, we have researched a new product offered by a company out of Florida called CodeRed. The company offers a service that is an early telephone warning system designed to automatically deliver targeted weather notifications for the immediate threat of severe thunderstorm warnings, flash flood warnings and tornado warnings within moments of being issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).

In other words, this system will alert citizens via, telephone message, text or email of impending severe weather without any effort or input from the governing agency. As you know the use of cell phones, smart phones, I-Pads and other media devices are on the rise and it seems as if almost everyone carries these devices with them constantly. What better way to let the community know than a personal message that they are sure to receive? This system can also be used by law enforcement and fire districts to warn of major incidences such as barricaded shooters, hazmat spills, power outages and road closings. Public works can use the system warn citizens of road repair projects, parade routes, sewer line breakage and many other functions. Public school systems can utilize CodeRed for parental notification of early school closings and emergency school evacuations and incidents. Health Departments and medical centers can provide pandemic info, vaccine availability, and emergency rerouting.

In February a representative from CodeRed will be in Rolla to present the system to representatives of the first responder, emergency services entities and their governing bodies for their review. This product, if affordable would be one more tool to use in the prevention of personal injury and property damage during a life threatening severe storm. We felt we owed it to the community to at least take a look at the system and see if it will work for us.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse