Severe weather notification system to be installed at fairgrounds

Visitors walking around the Isanti County Fairgrounds later this summer will have peace of mind knowing that if severe weather is looming, they will be informed.

Mari Bostrom, director of Isanti County Homeland Security and Emergency Management, explained the department received a $10,000 grant to be given to the Isanti County Agricultural Society to be used for installing a severe weather notification system at the Isanti County Fairgrounds.

Wayne Boettcher, president of the Isanti County Agricultural Society, and Mari Bostrom, director of Isanti County Homeland Security and Emergency Management are excited to receive a $10,000 grant that will be used to improve the severe weather notification system at the Isanti County Fairgrounds. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

Wayne Boettcher, president of the Isanti County Agricultural Society, and Mari Bostrom, director of Isanti County Homeland Security and Emergency Management are excited to receive a $10,000 grant that will be used to improve the severe weather notification system at the Isanti County Fairgrounds. Photo by Rachel Kytonen

“The Isanti County Fairgrounds has been designated as a mass sheltering site since it’s a large enough site to house people in buildings, house pets and livestock in the barns and set up FEMA campers on site,” Bostrom said. “And of course the Isanti County Fair is a big event around here, so this system will allow us to notify everyone on site in the event of severe weather.”

Wayne Boettcher, president of the Isanti County Agricultural Society, said installing an early warning system at the fairgrounds is an improvement that has been on the radar for years.

“Notifying people in the event of severe weather has been a concern of ours,” Boettcher said. “I remember sitting at the Isanti Rodeo a few years ago one night when the sky got really dark and people began to wonder what was going on. With this early notification system at the fairgrounds, we will be able to notify everyone in a timely fashion about severe weather. This will allow people time to get home safely or find shelter at the fairgrounds.”

Bostrom said the system will allow announcements to be made over the loud speakers at the fairgrounds and in the grandstand. The equipment will be installed this spring.

“The equipment has been purchased and will be installed with volunteer help from the Isanti County Fair Board and Isanti County Agricultural Society,” Bostrom said. “The volunteers will be doing a lot of work with this, and they’re a good group of people out there.”

Boettcher noted that because the fairgrounds is used for several different events throughout the year, many different agencies and organizations will benefit from the severe weather notification system.

The fairgrounds are an important part of the Cambridge community.

“The fair and 4-H organizations have really been tied together for many years,” Boettcher said. “This has been a part of a lot of people’s lives for generations. The Isanti County Fair has done as well as any of them to pull through some of these tough economic times. But there’s a lot of things to see and a lot of free entertainment at the Isanti County Fair once you pay your minimal gate fee. The fair really provides a lot of great entertainment for your family at an affordable price.”

Bostrom said the improvement system makes the fairgrounds a safer place.

“With all the activities at the fair, some of those folks are at the fairgrounds all night long,” Bostrom said. “This system will protect the community better by being able to notify those at the fairgrounds about severe weather.”

Boettcher said the agricultural society is appreciative of the grant.

“We are grateful we were given the grant and are pleased to have been a part of the process,” Boettcher said. “This notification warning system has been a project we’ve talked about for years, and we are grateful we are able to provide this great opportunity for the community.”

Bostrom also noted in conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 15-19, Tornado Drill Day is Thursday, April 18, and the sirens in the Cambridge community will be sounding at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m.  She feels all people should use this opportunity to plan protective action in the event severe weather should occur in the community.

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