Monthly Archives: October 2018


By: Rick Covert

On the evening of Monday October 22nd, the Franklin County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) team, participated in a Simulated Emergency Test (SET) exercise along with fellow team members from Logan County.

The scenario for this years SET, was a simulated Skywarn storm spotter net. This is something that both teams a very familiar with, but it was the goal of both to encourage new amateur radio operators to become more familiar with reporting criteria and procedures throughout the exercise.

Typically during one of our Franklin & Logan County Skywarn nets, we have several spotters that also have a dual role of ARES volunteers participating. During the past few months, several new hams, along with operators new to the area, have expressed an interest in learning about how participate, and what to report, and in an accurate manner that would be of benefit to our served counties.

Using information adapted from actual National Weather Service warnings, along with archived Doppler radar images from a recent severe storm event that produced wind damage in the region, the exercise was conducted in real time. This gave those newly interested a good sense of what goes on during a large scale severe weather event, but also the importance of relaying as close as possible accurate information for locations of damage such as downed utility lines, and hazards such as roads blocked by debris.

Very often during a severe weather event, emergency managers from both counties are either part of the Skywarn storm spotter base, or are working close by in our respective Emergency Operations Centers (EOC). This gives them the ability to quickly share with 911 centers, where law enforcement, fire departments, or emergency medical services may need to be sent, along with alerting road departments and other utilities.

Participating in the SET exercise for Logan County were, Dennis Bedene N5XMZ, Paul Mathieson WA8OXU, Jim Kiefer KD5NDJ, and Randy Zimmer KG5HQI. For Franklin County, Fredrick Hunt KK5AA, and Rick Covert KD5GSP.

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Barnes Rural Fire Department Newsletter

Barnes Rural Fire Department has issued Volume 1 Issue 1 of their new Newsletter!

Check it out below:

Click to download PDF

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Tuesday, October 9, 2018 Tornado Impact

October 9, 2018 Tornado Damage

Cattlemen repair fence from tornado damage near Franklin/Johnson County Line in Philpot Valley Picture taken by Melissa Francis

At 3:37 PM Tuesday October 9, Franklin and Johnson Counties were issued a Tornado Warning for a storm cell that entered moved over the Denning, Altus and Wiederkehr Village area.  A small tornado did develop which produced some light damage to one home in the area of Honeysuckle Road and Philpot Road.

October 09, 2018 Tornado Damage

Storm Damaged Tree on Hwy 352 just inside Johnson County Picture taken by Melissa Francis

Additional damage was located on farm land to the east in Johnson County.  There were several large trees knocked down or stripped of their limbs and foliage. Officials reported no injuries.

October 9, 2018 Tornado Damage

Watalula Fire Chief Frank Theising points out line of Tuesday’s tornado damage that crossed Philpot Road just over the Franklin/Johnson County line in Johnson County

The storm cell continued to track north and produced a Tornado Warning in Madison and Newton Counties.  The National Weather Service no reports of damage in these Counties.

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Storm Spotters Information Generates Tornado Warning in Franklin County

In the past few years, most tornado warnings have been issued due to the National Weather Service detecting low to mid-level  rotation on their much improved Doppler radar systems.  However, occasionally, a warning is generated by a ground truth report from a storm spotter in the field.  This past Tuesday’s event in Franklin and Johnson was just one of these rare times.

Initial ground reports came from area storm spotter and ham radio operator Mark Graves, K5OO.  Graves was north bound on Hwy 309 between Grayrock and  Roseville when he checked into  the Franklin/Logan County Skywarn Net which was being controlled by OEM Volunteer/ARES-EC Rick Covert, KD5GSP  at the Franklin County Courthouse in Ozark.   Graves report was used by Covert to confirm the radar return image he was monitoring.  Covert was in already in contact via Chat-room with the Tulsa Office of the National Weather Service.  The NWS had already advised Covert that storm  was taking on small supercell characteristics.  Upon receiving this information at the EOC, Covert informed the local Skywarn Net and responders to observe this cell closely.  Immediately after sharing this information, Graves reported observing a rapidly rotating wall cloud with the lowering of a funnel.  Concurrently, Covert relayed the ground truth reports and alerted the Dispatch to activate the Altus Tornado Sirens.  The Weather Service issued the warning primarily based on the work generated by Graves and Covert.

As this information was being processed by Covert, OEM Coordinator Fred Mullen, KD5MXV  was receiving by phone ground truth reports from the Denning area from County Judge Rickey Bowman.  Bowman was attending a meeting at the Denning City Hall when he observed rotation in the clouds above the area with movement  to the north.  At this time, other storm spotters (including OEM personnel Mullen and Melissa Francis, KD5MXW on I-40, and, long time ham radio operator/storm spotter Joe Finely, KA5IFX on Hwy 186  were tracking the storm north-north east.  Findley’s reports helped Covert to fine-tune the placement of other spotters to provide the best information to inform responders and the public about potentially impacted areas.  At St. Mary’s Mountain, law enforcement officers and fire fighters monitored the developing storm and filed reports to Mullen and the Dispatch Center.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018 Severe Weather

Responders Fred Mullen and Melissa Francis, Franklin County OEM, Randy Boren, FC EMS Director, Greg Tillery with FC Sheriff’s Department, Ozark PD, Kyle Eveld, Altus School Resource Officer, Leon Hall with Altus FD, Jason Parsons with Altus PD observe incoming storms

While this action was being taken in Franklin County, Johnson County OEM Coordinator Josh Johnson, KE5MHV was monitoring the Franklin/Logan County Net and NWS Chatroom.   He used that information to develop a warning for their county.

According to OEM Deputy Coordinator Covert, who has 19 years severe weather and emergency communications to Franklin County, “fortunately this tornado touched down in a rural area with mostly fields and trees.  However, it is important to remember that due to the efforts of local responders and stormspotters the Warning Notification was generated several  minutes earlier that it would have been.  Also, we had several resources following it ready to report the location and degree of damage or injuries had they occurred.  Law enforcement officers and fire fighters in the area were well positioned to immediately respond to assist the public.”

Mullen added, “this was an excellent  example of multi-agency, multi-disciple cooperation to detect, provide notification,  monitor and prepare a response to a potentially dangerous situation.”

Franklin County citizens are reminded they can apply for free weather warnings  on their phone at  For more information on this program, contact Franklin County OEM SDC Melissa Francis at 479-667-0070.

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O.E.S. Notepad

By: Fred Mullen

Franklin  County Responders

Franklin County Responders discuss plans for responding to the report of an missing college age student. From L to R–Professor Chris Rambo, Arkansas Tech; Chief Devin Bramlett, Ozark Police Department; EMS/9-1-1 Director Randy Boren; OEM Senior Deputy Coordinator, Melissa Francis; OEM Volunteer, Holly Odom. Attending but not pictured, Cass Job Corps Safety Director, Travis Johnson; and, OEM Coordinator Fred Mullen. (Picture by Fred Mullen

Arkansas Tech University Department of Criminal Justice Instructor Chris Rambo hosted a group of Franklin County Responders this past Friday to discuss the topic of missing college age students.  The training event was centered around a webinar provided by the National Criminal Justice Training Center entitled Missing and Abducted College Students.  A round table discussion followed the webinar.  Rambo said, “Colleges and trade schools need to be prepared in the event a student goes missing.  I very much appreciate the efforts of local responders efforts regarding this.”

I think the webinar followed by local discussion is an ideal way to train.  The webinar provides information that has proven value and then  we can discuss its lessons learned/best practices application for us in Franklin County.  Plus, each responder earns continuing education hours. Special thanks to Professor Rambo,  Arkansas Tech and the NCJTC.

Upcoming Training for October–Hybrid Cars on Saturday, October 20 at 0800 hours at the Logan County OEM Training Room, 205 East Maple Street in Paris.    For more information, call AFA Adjunct Instructor Dan Cybik at 479-965-5607. AFA Scene Lighting class will be presented on Monday Nonmember 5 at 1800 hours at the Watalula Fire Department.  For more information, call AFA Adjunct Instructor Frank Theising at 573-821-5570.

SAFETY TIP–Check your emergency kit so  your vehicle is ready for winter travel. Check the flashlight batteries, add an extra blanket, warm hat and gloves. Change out the water bottles you have been carrying all summer and pack them in layers so they are less likely to freeze. Add some snacks, a box of tissue, and restock the first aid kit.  Check the cord on your phone charger and GPS unit to see if they are damaged or worn.


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