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Community Center offers cool down zone in hot weather

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Summer officially begins at 7:09 p.m. on Wednesday, but anyone venturing outside before then certainly felt like it had already arrived. The mercury was expected to hit the 90s, but with humidity, meteorologists said the "real feel" temperature was well over 100.

The North Utica Community Center on Riverside Drive opened its doors to the public on Wednesday to help area residents cool off.

"The center always has a policy that when the heat index is 90 or above, the center stays open until 9 o'clock at night, and offers a place for people to come in, cool down, be comfortable, stay hydrated and participate in activities or just sit down and watch TV," said Center Executive Director Yvonne McCluskey. "As a community center, our goal is to do things that are great for the community and a lot of our seniors, we know, are in apartments or homes that may not have central air and may get hot and stuffy and this is a place that the temperature is controlled. It's actually nice and cool in here and it's a great place to spend time in, so it's our pleasure to offer it to people."

The American Red Cross said that it is in communication with both the county emergency managers and the county Health Departments and will monitor the heat. They say they have pre-identified sites for cooling stations, but nothing that will be open in advance. They say if the need arises, then they will open those cooling stations and alert the public. In the meantime, they want to remind people that Red Cross offices are always open to anyone who needs a cool place to go in the heat.

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