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Belmont County Warming Shelter Sites Announced

Temperatures have begun to plummet, prompting the Belmont County Emergency Management Agency to release a list of warming centers where people can take shelter when they need a warm place to stay.

Becky Horne, executive administrative assistant, said no one has needed a warming shelter yet.

Most of the warming centers that opened their doors in past years will be open again, but she could not confirm whether the Spirit of ’76 Fire Department will act as a shelter this year. She noted that Shekinah Christian Church in Barnesville is a new warming shelter this season.

Horne said the Shekinah Church also acted as a shelter following a fire at a Barnesville housing complex in December 2020.

The shelters are:

– Bannock United Methodist Church at Ohio 331 Bannock, 740-968-3081 or 740-310-1692;

– Shekinah Church at 145 W. Main St., Barnesville, 740-624-0612;

– Bellaire Salvation Army at 315 37th St., Bellaire, 740-676-6225;

– Bethesda Community Room at 103 S. Main St., Bethesda, 740-582-1888;

– Sunset Heights Fire Department, 69604 Sunset Heights, 740-827-6100;

– Smith Township Fire Department in Centerville, 740-310-0944;

– Colerain Fire Co. Social Hall at 72559 Colerain St., Ohio 250, 740-699-0425;

– Flushing Fire Department at 104 E. High St., Flushing, 740-310-1964;

– Lafferty Fire Department at 70191 Irwin St., Lafferty, 740-968-3016 or 740-310-0901;

– Grace Presbyterian Church at 7 N. Fourth St. in Martins Ferry, 740-359-1813;

– Maynard United Methodist Church at 71480 Hall St., Maynard, 740-968-3081 or 740-310-1692;

– Church of the Nazarene at 100 Ohio 7 South in Powhatan Point, 740-472-4105;

– Shadyside Community Center at 50 E. 39th St., Shadyside, door is open;

– Somerton Fire Department at 55717 Washington St., Somerton, 740-391-9060; and

– Yorkville United Methodist Church at 121 Third St., Yorkville, 740-859-3013.

The public is asked to call ahead so that arrangements can be made to accommodate those in need. Anyone seeking shelter should be sure to take drinks, snacks, prescription medicine, cellular phone chargers, or other necessities.

Horne added she also hopes to hear from a possible shelter site in Neffs.

Horne also suggested the Ohio Valley Mall as a place to stay warm, along with local libraries or churches.

“People usually don’t like to use shelters. They don’t like to leave their homes and they have pets. They can’t take their pets,” Horne said.

She said the cold weather and supply chain issues suggest the public might want to stock up on supplies.

“It’s always good to be prepared, and this is a good time to realize that,” she said.

At Grace Presbyterian Church in Martins Ferry, the Rev. William Webster said his church has been a warming center for the eastern edge of the county for years.

“It’s mostly a place for people to come and get warmed up, but we do have provisions for people to stay overnight,” he said. “If we get a lot of snow and ice and the power lines go down. … We’ve never lost power for more than 10 minutes at a time. … We’re a safe place. We have a shower and a large kitchen. We can divide people up and try to keep people safe, especially with the COVID. … It’s part of the ministry of the church to provide a warm place on these cold days.”

Webster declined to speculate whether the need for a shelter will be high this year. He added people in the area can also contact the fire or police departments in Martins Ferry to be let in if no church staff are available.

“We just don’t know what to expect,” he said. “In the past we’ve had a couple people get warmed up and seek shelter. We’ve only had a few stay overnight. … We do the same thing in the summer as a cooling center.”

“We most definitely would be available to help meet a need in the community,” the Rev. Roy Hershberger at Shekinah Christian Church said. “We were already known. The police and the fire department, whenever there’s a need in the area, they will call me. In the past I took people to motels and stuff like that, depending on what the need was.”

He added that should no one be at the premises, there is a heated space between the two pairs of double doors and warm clothing is available.

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