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Weather watchers prepare for duty

JACKSON – As part of a joint project between television stationWLBT and newspapers around the state, weather watchers are ready toroll following training Thursday at the station’s studio.

Participants representing more than 20 newspapers received basicweather spotter training from Jim Butch, with the National WeatherService, and received equipment to assist them in reporting weatherstatistics for the station.

WLBT Chief Meteorologist Barbie Bassett said the station wasinundated with e-mails from people interested in being weatherwatchers.

“We feel like we’re setting new ground doing this,” Bassettsaid.

Bassett said weather is very important in people’s lives. Shesaid weather watchers will be especially valuable during times ofsevere weather.

“That’s when you’ll be our live reporter on television,” saidBassett, discussing plans to call weather watchers to get conditionreports.

Also as part of the program, weather watchers will be calling inat designated times to give weather data in their areas for useduring WLBT’s newscasts. Bassett said weather watchers will also beable to help highlight various events in their communities.

“This serves us in many different aspects,” Bassett said.

Butch said the weather watcher program is a great idea. He saidit will encourage competition and get more weather watchers thatcan in turn help the weather service provide better information tocitizens.

“Our main function is protection of lives and property,” Butchsaid. “We can’t do that without the media.”

When a weather watcher’s data is used on a newscast, his or herphoto will be displayed along with the community newspaper’s logo.WLBT General Manager Dan Modisett said the station was glad topartner with local newspapers around the state.

“Everybody reads their local paper,” Modisett said. “They’resuch an integral part of the communities they’re in.”

Weather watcher reports are scheduled to start Feb. 7.

Lincoln County weather information is scheduled to be featuredthree times a week on WLBT. Times include Mondays at 6 a.m.,Wednesdays at 10 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.

Another part of the program is that participating newspaperswill publish weather forecasts provided by WLBT. The forecast canbe found on page 2 of The DAILY LEADER.

Weather watchers offered a variety of reasons for participatingin the program.

“I’m involved with agriculture. I like to keep up with what’sfixing to happen,” said Robert Martin, Issaquena and Sharkey countydirector for the Mississippi State Cooperative ExtensionService.

Crawford Lampton, 8, of Magnolia, claimed the title of youngestweather watcher.

“He thought it would be a good learning experience,” said hismother Louise.

Donnie Hedgepeth, James Covington and Angel and Scott Young wereselected to be Lincoln County’s weather watchers.

“I was interested in being a part of it and seeing if I can helpout with the community,” said Hedgepeth, a jailer and auxiliarydeputy from Bogue Chitto who also works with the volunteer firedepartment.

Before becoming a teacher for Wee Care at First Baptist Church,Angel Young said she wanted to be a meteorologist. She and herhusband Scott said participating in the weather program would be agood experience and a way to help others.

“It’s a service to the community,” Scott Young said.