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Cooling center opens today if temp reaches 102 degrees

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POSTED June 8, 2013 1:53 a.m.

Brandy Clark and the City of Manteca will watch the mercury closely today, making note of every incremental change in the temperature.

If the heat wave lives up to record expectation, city officials will turn the Manteca Senior Center into a cooling center for the first time since 2008.

“The heat in the Valley hits triple digits a lot. It’s something a lot of people have become accustomed to. It’s not as detrimental as in years past,” Clark said. “I think a majority of people have air conditioning, but we want to have something for those that do not.”

Various weather services have forecasted temperatures in excess of 100 degrees through the weekend, with a record high of 108 today, according to Accuweather.

The previous high for June 8 was 106 degrees, registered in 1973. Last year, it was a 85 degrees.

Clark is the Recreation Director for the senior center and an extension of the City of Manteca’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Typically, her doors open for senior citizens, many of whom arrive looking for a workout or yoga. This weekend, however, the senior center will likely be a place of refuge for those looking to beat the heat.

With one stipulation.

The cooling center will only open if temperatures exceed 102 degrees, and will remain open to the public as long as the temperature stays above that mark. If the temperature falls below 102 degrees at any time, the cooling center will be forced to close.

“We want everybody in the community to be safe. That’s the reason why city staff has a designated spot for people to go to,” Clark said. “We don’t want to see people get sick or worse than that.”

The cooling center will be free of charge for patrons of all ages. The senior center will provide shelter, cable television and air conditioning only. There will be some games and activities available, and the parched may drink from the center’s fountain. Otherwise, food, beverage and programming will not be provided.

Two rooms will be used to stage the cooling center. The senior center’s main hall has been rented out to a private party. A part-time employee will help direct people to where they need to be.

To be the best of Clark’s knowledge, Manteca has used two designated cooling centers in years past – the senior center and the Manteca Public Library.

Clark also noted there are other ways for citizens to escape the suffocating heat – such as the movies or water park. But cooling centers are affordable and accessible to all, from the full family to the homeless.

Clark’s lasting image from the summer of 2008 – the last time the senior center was used as a cooling center, according to her records – was that of a mother and her two children finding refuge at the senior center.

“This is for the general public. It’s open to all ages. Even though it is a senior center it is open to all ages,” she added.

Ripon does not offer its residents a cooling center.

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