The Ottumwa Courier

Wapello County

December 21, 2012

Miss an event due to snow? Call before you pout

OTTUMWA — If you’re disappointed because yesterday’s weather made you miss a fun event, don’t despair — at least until you make a phone call. You may find out the organizers didn’t make it in, either.

“We’ll be having our Christmas distribution [today] instead,” said Captain Oliver Knuth, a pastor at the Salvation Army.

Their event had been scheduled for Thursday, but predictions of blizzard-like conditions prompted the church to tell participants that their normal policy would be in effect. If Ottumwa schools announced they were closed, the Salvation Army would also be closed.

People who wanted more information about doing some good in Fairfield will have to wait to find out how to do some volunteering — though a phone call to the Fairfield Volunteer Center could get them started in a rewarding position.

As for the Lunch and Learn scheduled for Thursday, it was canceled due to, of course, weather.

A FVC email to the Courier, however, announced: “We’ll reschedule after after the holidays, so please stay tuned!”

Ottumwa schools were canceled Thursday, but that has meaning to the public-at-large, not just students.

“If conditions aren’t safe enough for students to get to classes, they aren’t safe enough to get to extra-curriculars,” said Superintendent Davis Eidahl,  who was at school working in his office Thursday. “That’s our practice. On occasion, if we have a contest with another school which did not cancel, we will monitor conditions, but normally, we do cancel. ”

The district has had better luck letting parents know about cancellations as it embraces technology, including social networking sites, automated text messages and the district web page.

“That electronic media is getting more popular,” Eidahl said. “We had over a thousand visitors to our district website [Thursday] morning between 6 and 8 a.m., and Wednesday night before midnight we  had more than 4,000 visitors. And we continue to use television and radio announcements.”

Besides class, Thursday’s school closing mostly had an impact on athletic meets.

“We had some events after school, like swimming, wrestling and bowling. They have all been canceled,” Eidahl said. “A middle school orchestra concert was also canceled. Kids really work hard for these [events] and we don’t want to cancel, but we have to postpone for safety.”

He spent part of Thursday on the phone with superintendents in other school districts.

“We’re working on a date to reschedule those. That’s one of the things we can get done on a day like today,” he said.

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