Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter appeared before thePlymouthParkand Recreation Board this week requesting the use ofWebsterCenteras an emergency shelter. During the meeting, Senter said, “In 2012, the (Red Cross) office inPlymouthwill be closed totally.”
After learning late on Wednesday afternoon from American Red Cross Regional Executive Director, John Pinter, that the office was not closing, Senter said, “I was given inaccurate information.”
Pinter was first made aware of the local news article quoting the Mayor after being contacted by the media for a statement. Pinter immediately said, “The American Red Cross office is definitely not closing. I don’t know where that information came from, but it is not true.”
Pinter was already scheduled to meet with the local Red Cross Board on Thursday inPlymouth. Pinter said, “The Mayor did come to us in person and extended his apology.”
What is yet unknown are where emergency shelters could be set-up during any type of disaster. Previously the Red Cross used the First Church of Christ during emergencies such as gas leaks, blizzard conditions and flooding. As he addressed the Park Board, Senter they feel a government building should be used. At that time, however, Senter believed the local Red Cross was closing next year. The Park Board voted to allow the use ofWebsterCenteras a disaster designated facility.
Pinter said, “It’s not uncommon to have several sites within one city that can be accessed during an emergency.”
Much of the confusion could have stemmed from changes made at the national level of the American Red Cross that were effective on July 1. Previously the Marshall/Fulton County office was part of twelve counties overseen though the regional office inSouth Bend. Now all of northernIndianais being serviced though that office, with much of the paperwork being generated and completed inIndianapolis. The changes also led to the elimination of the position of Disaster Director forMarshallCounty. Mickey Davenport, who had held that title for ten years and accepted the responsibilities of 24/7 disaster responses. She was one of eight in the region eliminated.
Pinter has been responsible for thePlymouthchapter for some time. When the announcement for the changes were released ,Pinter said, “To fill the void, the Red Cross will have the Emergency Services Director from the neighboring chapter on Tuesdays and a staff member from St Joseph County up on Thursdays, so there will be a little more staff time in total.”
Kathleen Husband, director of Health and Safety for the local office, continues in her half-time position, but will be out of the office more than in the past and involved in more training of volunteers.
Pinter said, “Red Cross is called upon to help victims and survivors of disasters. Most of the time, people think of disasters as big events, but nationally over 95 percent of what our volunteers respond to is single family fires.”
In 201-2011, Marshall County Chapter of the Red Cross has helped with seven single family fires, one multi-unit fire, two other incidents (gas leak and blizzard), and assisted fourteen families.
They have also assisted in 30 military cases requiring financial assistance and /or emergency communication.
According to Pinter, Red Cross personnel train over 2,000 people in Fulton/Marshall County each year, in lifesaving techniques like CPR, First Aide, and Life guarding.
Red Cross mobile blood collection trucks are conducting blood drives throughout and had over 4,000 units collected in 2011 in the two county area served by the chapter.
Funding for the local American Red Cross comes from donations from the public;United WaysofMarshallandFultonCounties, for a portion of the disaster and military work; grants for projects from foundations and businesses; class registration fees; and bequests, legacies and planned giving.
Local Board President Carol Arnett is hoping that their October 16 fundraiser will draw a crowd. The Harlem Ambassadors will be appearing at thePlymouthHigh Schoolgymnasium with the proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross Marshall County Chapter. The event will being at4:00 p.m.Tickets can be purchased by calling 574-936-3928.
Ticket prices are as follow: Adult, $8; youth, $6; and family, $25. The family ticket includes 2 adults and up to 4 children. Children under the age of five have free admission.
Pinter said donations given locally are now processed inIndianapolis, but are credited to the Marshall County Chapter’s account. He added, “The good thing about being part of the Greater Indianapolis Region is that there is one accounting system.”
Pinter said, “By serving the community well, support will follow.”
Carol Anders Correspondent