Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TOP STORY >> Hot enough to sting your eyes

Leader staff writer

It’s hot. Hot enough to sting your eyes and burn your fingers touching the steering wheel. Water seems the best way people are coping with the triple-digit heat.

“It’s really hard to keep bottled water in stock. Any pack size of water, if it is in a bottle, they buy it,” Cabot Knight’s assistant store manager Chad Wilson said.

Brick mason Reyes Mendez was working with a crew setting bricks at Cabot High School HPER (health, physical education and recreation) building entrance. He said he drinks cold water a little bit at a time, so he does not get sick.

Plumbing foreman Earl Cason was sweating it out inside the cool shade of the HPER building.

“We try to work on places out of the sun, or work on the places in the direct sun in the morning when it is cool,” Cason said.

Manuel Cuerto of Conway, a lawn-care worker, was using an edger on the grassy islands in the Kroger parking lot. He was dressed to battle the sun with a long-sleeved shirt, a bandana to shade his neck and a hat. Cuerto said he takes 10 to 15 minute breaks during the heat and drinks water and Gatorade.

Cabot Waterworks employees were busy working in the hot weather. Crew member Jeff Loeschener and crew leader Jimmy Hankins were pressure testing a new 8-inch water main at Fourth and Cherry streets.

Loeschener said to work in the heat, you have to drink water and cool off every now and then.

“The more you are in it, the more you can stand it,” Loeschener said.

“You have to pace yourself,” Hankins said.

Cabot Waterworks general manager Tim Joyner said crews were repairing more leaks in the last two weeks since the ground dried out.

“It tends to pull the connections apart, as the ground loses moisture it settles and subsides,” Joyner said.

He said in the past, water lines were improperly installed. As the ground dried, large rocks would move and break pipes.

“We had to replace two miles of water lines when the water and wastewater commission took over in 2006,” Joyner said.

“The commission put in more stringent requirements and inspectors monitor pipes being installed,” Joyner said.

The Cabot community outdoor pool on Richie Road has seen an increase in swimmers since temperatures have gone up.

“The water here is actually cooler compared to Indian Head Lake,” Stacey Minard of Cabot said.

“There’s not much you can do to beat the heat. It is hard to cool the houses these days with kids running in and out,” Minard said.

Minard said both the Cabot outdoor pool and Splash Zone in Jacksonville are simple and easy for little kids. She brought her children Abby, 8, and Ayden, 3, to the pool.

“I don’t have to worry about drowning. They have lifeguards everywhere,” Minard said.

Natalie Chism may have the coolest job this summer serving snow cones inside the air-conditioned Brain Freeze shaved-ice stand, at Cabot Knight’s grocery parking lot along South Pine Street.

“We’ve opened in May and business has gone up tremendously, but it’s kind of slow until people get off of work. We go through 500 to 700 blocks of ice a week,” said Chism.

A block of ice makes around 10 to 15 snow cones.

The best-selling snow cones are homemade ice cream with cream, cake batter, ‘tiger’s blood’ and banana cream. They also serve new flavors-red velvet cake and Razorback red, wild strawberry, wild cherry and tropical punch mixed together.

“The kids like sour grape or rainbow,” Chism said.

For residents who have no air conditioning, the Cabot Senior Citizens Center on 600 N. Grant St. is available as an emergency cooling center during the day.

The center has games to play and cable television for seniors needing to get out of the heat. If someone needs to cool off they can call the senior center at 843-2196 or the mayor’s office at 843-3566.