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The Carthage Press
  • Wet weather creates muddy problems at Marian Days

  • An unusual weather pattern that dumped more than two inches of moisture on Carthage this week, and threatens to dump more the rest of the week, has caused some problems for those working to keep the thousands of people attending Marian Days safe.
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  • An unusual weather pattern that dumped more than two inches of moisture on Carthage this week, and threatens to dump more the rest of the week, has caused some problems for those working to keep the thousands of people attending Marian Days safe.
    Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said the rain turned some fire lanes through the sea of tents into quagmires.
    “Some of our fire lanes that don't have asphalt on them, because the Fathers want them to be a grassy area the rest of the year, have been rutted out and destroyed through food deliveries and all that,” Dagnan said. “The Fathers have already brought in some gravel and graveled some areas that are typically just grass.”
    Last year Marian Days was marked by triple digit temperatures and drought. This year, the temperatures are cooler, but each of the past five nights have seen measurable rainfall and the threat of severe weather.
    Severe weather watches or warnings have been issued in the early morning hours of the past three nights in Jasper County as strong storms have moved into Southwest Missouri from Kansas.
    The National Weather Service Office in Springfield predicts a good chance for thunderstorms through Saturday.
    Dagnan said while tornado shelters are available on the campus, they're not large enough to shelter the estimated 50,000-70,000 people who attend the event every year.
    “It's really kind of up to each individual family to do what they believe is best,” Dagnan said. “There is a tornado shelter in the auditorium but it won't hold 70,000 people. What I find is that most people just batten down the hatches at their campsite and stay in their campsite during a storm.”
    The city began to ramp up security and safety services around the Marian Days grounds on Tuesday, with the start of round-the-clock patrols with one Carthage police officer.
    Dagnan said public safety headquarters on the Salvation Army Parking Lot on Grand Avenue officially took over dispatching at Marian Days and roadblocks went up Grand Avenue and Highland Street at 7 a.m. Thursday. Fairview Avenue was closed on Wednesday.
    “We start on Tuesday with one person on duty from CPD and we gradually ramp up until there's approximately 25-30 on Saturday,” Dagnan said. “It's a gradual build-up, as more people come on grounds, we provide more security. Starting Tuesday morning, we are patrolling the grounds until we get everyone out of here on Sunday morning.”
    Dagnan said officers from around the area come in to help provide security as the event builds. He said the Fathers at the Congregation of the Mother Coredemptrix pay for most of the cost of this extra security.
    “They pay the majority of the costs for the people we have to bring in from out of the city, and they provide meals for all the security people while they are here,” Dagnan said. “It's a big investment for them just to have security.”
    Page 2 of 2 - People attending Marian Days began setting up tents on and around the grounds last week.
    Dagnan said officers tried to contact the residents of 250 homes around the grounds before the event to see who wanted tent camping on their lawns and who didn't.
    “We actually go door-to-door with a letter that basically says if you let us know your wishes,” Dagnan said. “We'll log it and we'll enforce it as we see things happen. For example, if you go by a yard and there's only one tent in it, you start thinking now wait a minute, so we can look at our list and sort of get ahead of it before it starts to become a big issue.”
    Dagnan reminded residents who live around the grounds that asking for money to rent tent space on one's lawn is illegal in Carthage.
    “Renting yards is against ordinance and so sometimes we have problems with that,” he said. “We're very well aware that the people who come to this celebration are very generous and as they leave, they typically will make donations to the people that let them camp in their yard, but soliciting those donations is prohibited and so we'll deal with that every year.”

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