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NWS warns of cold weather

Even before the start of the New Year, the National Weather Service is forecasting frigidly cold weather for southeast Missouri with temperatures that at times will likely drop to dangerously low levels — especially with the wind chill factored in.

On Friday, the NWS released a Hazardous Weather Outlook warning of the likelihood of dangerous wind chills ranging anywhere from 15 to near 30 below zero in the region and continued bitterly cold temperatures through the coming week.

The coldest values are expected to arrive Sunday night through Monday night, with the highest threat for dangerous wind chill values occurring during the early morning hours on both days. The high on Sunday will top out at about 15, with a low of -2. Monday's high will reach 16 degrees, with a low of 1.

The rest of the week isn't going to be a whole lot warmer either.

Expect a high of 25 and low of 13 on Tuesday; high of 29 and low of 7 on Wednesday; a high of 25 and low of 10 on Thursday; and a high of 29 and low of 11 on Friday.

Relatively "balmy" weather is expected to return to the area Saturday when the Parkland is forecast to see a high of 36 and low of 23.

With the onslaught of dangerous weather conditions, take note of these NWS extreme cold safety tips:

Minimize travel.

Stay indoors during the worst part of the extreme cold.

Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle if you must travel.

Check tire pressure, antifreeze levels, heater/defroster, etc.

Learn how to shut off water valves for potential pipe bursts.

Check on the elderly.

Bring pets inside.

Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, and a hat.

Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.

Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.

Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

For the latest updates, watches and warnings issued by the NWS, check out the Daily Journal website at www.dailyjournalonline.com


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Fire destroys home Thursday

A late night house fire in Doe Run is under investigation after firefighters were called to a home in the 2,000 block of Poplar Street that was engulfed in flames.

Doe Run Fire Lt. Jean Usher said they were called to the home at 11:52 p.m. and since it was close to the firehouse they were able to get there pretty quickly.

“It was a fully-involved single-story home and we started attacking the fire immediately,” said Usher. “We called our mutual aid companies in to help from Leadington, Park Hills, Farmington, Bismarck and Wolf Creek.”

Usher said eventually the other departments arrived and it took a while to get the fire put out. She added they were out there into the early morning hours and left after 3 a.m.

“There was one person who lived there and he made out of the home safely,” said Usher. “Two firefighters sustained minor injuries and one was later taken to an area hospital. The other one didn’t go to the hospital.”

Usher said the fire is under investigation at this time and the State Fire Marshal’s Office was contacted.

“We don’t know what the cause of the fire was yet and we hope to find out what caused the fire after the fire marshal does his investigation,” said Usher. “The home was a total loss even though it’s still standing. The roof is caving in and it was burned all the way through.”

Usher said the fire marshal didn’t come out overnight, but came out during daylight to look at the home and talk to the homeowner.

“The fire marshal did make it out and he said he couldn’t rule out an electrical issue,” said Usher. “So he determined it was an accidental fire and fortunately this was the homeowner’s secondary home, so he isn’t displaced.”


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Camp Valor donations sought

Between now and spring, residents will have the chance to donate at area businesses for a cause benefiting wounded or ill veterans.

The annual Camp Valor Outdoors Spring Classic Fishing Tournament at S bar F Scout Ranch is slated for next April, but local sponsors are asking for the community’s help to make the veterans’ experience as good as it can be.

The fishing tournament brings together wounded or ill veterans for three days of fishing and skeet shooting. Local sponsors like the Farmington and Leadington VFW posts and the Farmington American Legion work together to cover the expenses of the traveling veterans.

Leadington Auxiliary Veteran and Family Support Chairman Kandi McFarland said she has placed donation boxes at several gas stations and restaurants in the area for people to donate.

“These donations help defray the cost of lodging, fishing equipment, transportation, ammunition and trophies for 10 of our wounded warriors,” McFarland said. “We pay for their hotel rooms, we cook them all their meals and we try to take care of every need they have while they’re here.”

The veterans receive all-new fishing rods and tackle for the tournament. McFarland said the sponsors also try to provide equipment to the tournament guides, who volunteer their vehicles for the event.

McFarland said almost $3,000 was raised last year, with additional donations coming from businesses and organizations. She said the community’s support is appreciated by not only the sponsors but by the wounded or ill veterans who will directly benefit from them.

“These are veterans,” she said. “They’re not just veterans, but these are guys who are wounded in some way who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go fishing or shooting. It’s a really neat thing for them and it’s an honor for us to be involved.

“If it wasn’t for the community support to help make this happen, we wouldn’t be able to defray the cost and make these trips happen for these warriors. So it really means a lot to the veterans and to us to have community support.”

For more information about supporting the Camp Valor Outdoors Spring Classic Fishing Tournament, contact Frank Ramirez at 573-330-1124, Bill Henson at 573-760-3611, Dave Oder at 573-631-4393 or Kandi McFarland at 573-915-6015.


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Screen system in place at prison

A new screening system/grinder is now in place at the Eastern Reception Diagnostic Correctional Center (ERDCC) in Bonne Terre. The system has been discussed several times in the past due to the issues the city was having with the original screen which wasn’t designed to accept plastics.

Alex Dunker with MECO Engineering Company, Inc. discussed the project with the city council recently. He said they are done with the grinder project.

“I don’t think there are any other loose ends, but if something comes up we will get with Alliance,” said Dunker. “We aren’t running away when we are done. If something comes up we will be sure it gets fixed.”

Dunker presented the council with a letter describing the work they did with the project and also discussed the contract with the correctional center. Due to what is in the contract between the city and the correctional center, the city should have never had to install a grinder, he indicated.

The correctional center is not supposed to send trash through the wastewater and should have equipment set up on their end to filter it out. Alliance has repeatedly found items in the wastewater including jumpsuits, Ramen noodle plastic wrappers, and various materials.

“It associates a dollar amount with that and when you guys ask them for money, if you ask them for money for reimbursement ..." Dunker said. “I can’t get into the legal end of things ... that is where the attorney will come in ...but what I can do is provide a letter on my end.”

Dunker said the letter would represent his opinion and describe the circumstances. He added according to the contract it shouldn’t have been necessary.

“That is what that letter entails,” said Dunker. “From what I understand, approximately 92 percent of the wastewater comes from the prison to that treatment plant ..."

MECO Engineering entered into a contract with the city of Bonne Terre in September 2016 and the services included design and construction observation/inspection for new screening equipment.

“The Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) treats 100 percent of the wastewater coming from the nearby correctional facility and a small amount of residential wastewater from homes in the area,” Dunker reported. “It is estimated by operators that the daily flow of the plant consists of approximately 90 percent prison flow and 10 percent residential flow.”

Dunker said a majority of the flow and trash is coming from the prison. He added initially they were presented with a contract between the city and the Missouri Department of Corrections, which clearly outlined the wastewater quality sent to the plant from the prison.

“In other words, there is a contractual agreement in which composition of the wastewater, including soils or trach, that the city is obligated to treat is specifically outlined,” Dunker said. “In the design of new screening equipment for the facility, the volume and type of trash to be removed was considered for proper design.”

Dunker said during multiple site visits and discussions with operators in city personnel, MECO Engineering Company saw that wastewater quality standards outlined in the contract were not being adhered by the prison.

“On two separate occasions, MECO personnel saw trash passing through and around the prison’s channel grinder and going downstream where it was eventually collected by the city’s primary bar screen,” Dunker said. “A routine inspection by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) also noted similar deficiencies and an abundance of trash which could be reasonably assumed to have come from the prison.”

Dunker said due to the overwhelming amount of trash in the system, the city has been unable to properly treat wastewater according to DNR standards and has been notified to fix the deficiencies.

“History and preliminary conversations with the state of Missouri personnel led us to believe that the prison does not intend to fund any treatment equipment to help adhere to the contractual wastewater effluent requirements,” said Dunker. “These initial conversations with the state to help fund improvements were not effective.”

MECO Engineering was required to design improvements under the worst-case scenario in which the city will continue to receive untreated, high solids wastewater from the prison.

Dunker said their final decision included a heavy duty, in-channel grinder, which is specifically designed for the worst solid loadings, such as prisons, as well as a fine screen auger to remove the shredded trash from the waste stream.

“It is our opinion that if the prison was delivering contractual-quality effluent to the Northeast WWTP, which specifies a half inch or less solids, with no plastics, the grinder portion of our design would not be needed,” Dunker said. “If the WWTP was receiving a half inch or less solids and no plastics, on a reliable basis, the only equipment needed would be a fine screen.”

Dunker explained there are many variations of fine screens that would have been acceptable if the prison was in compliance. If they would have only installed fine screen with the current trash coming through it would have failed in a very short period of time.

“The city and MECO Engineering had to design improvements in an effort to maintain compliance with DNR wastewater standards,” said Dunker. “The grinder, which shouldn’t have been needed, costs $40,000 from the manufacturer.”

He explained that contractor markup is typically 15 percent of the equipment cost and proper installation and labor by a qualified contractor is usually 80 to 100 percent of the cost of the equipment.

“It is my estimation that approximately $82,000 to $92,000 of this project should not have been needed if the incoming wastewater was of contractual quality,” Dunker said. “In addition, the city will now have to maintain this piece of equipment at costs which will be realized once the equipment is in use.”


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Patrol urges safety this weekend

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s New Year’s weekend counting period is underway and they are encouraging everyone to be safe.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Spokesperson Cpl. Juston Wheetley said statewide eight people died and 302 people were injured in 539 traffic crashes during the counting period last year.

“The crashes last year were during that brief snowstorm we had,” said Wheetley. “It was mostly off I-44 in Franklin County. This holiday is not nearly as bad as some of the other holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is a big one when people go out.”

“It’s typically not as bad as some of the other holiday weekends, but we do still see a lot of drinking and driving,” said Wheetley. “We just ask that if drinking is part of your plan or you anticipate it to be part of your plans to have a designated sober driver.”

Wheetley said this weekend is also supposed to be a bitterly cold weekend. They want to remind people if they do plan on getting out during the holiday and celebrating the New Year to be aware of that.

“Also they need to make sure the vehicle has plenty of gas in it and they have a cell phone charger, along with other essentials in case they find themselves stranded,” said Wheetley. “Warm blankets, non-perishables, water and those types of things.”

Wheetley suggests letting others know where you are traveling and what time you should arrive.

“It will help in case you don’t arrive and help aid others into knowing your route, so we can get to you quicker,” said Wheetley. “Because of the cold weather, if you do find yourself stranded, hypothermia can set in quickly if you aren’t warm.”

Wheetley added while alcohol may seem to warm them up, people will get out thinking they are warmer than what they are and freeze.

“We don’t want anyone to be out in an intoxicated condition and freeze to death,” said Wheetley. “The highway patrol will have troopers out looking for dangerous driving behaviors, impaired drivers and those in need.”