Weather radios for seniors arrive, ready for distribution

Published 8:24 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

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LaFAYETTE — Phase I of a plan to provide local seniors with free weather radios was a big success last year in Valley with a total of 150 of the radios being given to those who took part in the city’s senior program. 

Phase II is well on its way to continuing that success with these radios being given to seniors in Lanett, LaFayette, Roanoke, Wedowee and Lineville.

This year’s program is being funded by a $5,000 grant from the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council.

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This year’s funding will allow for 51 weather radios for Lanett seniors, 61 for those in LaFayette, 25 for Beulah seniors and 164 for seniors in Randolph and Clay counties.

The radios arrived at the Chambers County Courthouse Wednesday morning. Fire Chief Jim Doody programmed the radios, and the City of LaFayette employees manned an assembly line to install the batteries. Mayor Kenneth Vines and Council Member Toney Thomas delivered the first three radios to homebound seniors Faye Jones, Daniel Burney and Ollie Leverette. 

They distributed the remaining ones to the participants in the city’s senior center program.

These radios will allow seniors in the east-central Alabama region to receive the latest, up-to-date information on impending stormy weather. NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Long-time Valley resident Ray Edwards has been instrumental in coordinating this program for the past two years. He’s the board chairman of the Alabama Department of Senior Services (ADSS) and sees this as a pilot program that should eventually cover the entire state in the coming years.

“It is so important for seniors to have such radios,” he said. “Its a fast, easy way for them to get the latest forecasts on bad weather days. They need to know immediately if a tornado watch has been issued for their area, a heavy thunderstorm is on the way or if there could be some flash flooding.”

“I love this program,” said Ciara Turner, executive director of the Coosa Valley RC&D. “I would like to see it expand throughout our 11-county region and throughout the state. This is something that touches lives, especially those who live in rural areas.”

Headquartered in Heflin, the Coosa Valley RC&D includes Chambers, Tallapoosa, Randolph, Clay, Talladega, Cleburne, Calhoun, St. Clair, Cherokee and Etowah counties.

Its purpose is to accelerate the conservation, development and utilization of natural and human resources, enhance the environment and quality of life and to foster economic and community growth.

All RC&D projects run on a fiscal year cycle, starting on October 1. Each of Alabama’s nine councils accept grant applications from April 1 to June 30.

Chris Langley is Chambers County’s representative on the Coosa County RC&D. He was present at Wednesday’s ceremony and was pleased that this program was being implemented.

Also present were State Representatives Debbie Wood and Bob Fincher.

“It gladdens my heart to see this,” said Edwards, who was accompanied by great-grandson Gavin Walden. “This is something that needs to go statewide.”