Updated at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 8: The warming center located at the McGee Center at 3800 College Ave. will remain open tonight beginning at 7 p.m., the Conway Police Department posted via Facebook.
Director of the Ministry Center Scott Taylor said the Ministry Center will provide food and transportation again tonight beginning at 5:30 p.m. and follow the same schedule used yesterday.
Projected low temperatures prompted the City of Conway to open a warming center at the McGee Center Jan.7 beginning at 7 p.m., according to Chief of Staff Jack Bell.
"It’s open to anyone who needs a warm place to stay," said Bell.
Conway Fire Chief Mike Winter said factors such as temperature, wind chill, precipitation and length of time for which the conditions exist contribute to the decision to open a warming center. The National Weather Service predicted that temperatures would fall to 10 degrees on Jan. 7.
Winter said that in other states, warming centers open if the temperature is not projected to exceed 20 degrees for 72 hours, but there is no definitive criteria for Conway.
"To me, that’s extreme," he said. "If you have someone who needs shelter, you don’t need to wait."
Bell said the center’s location may have hindered past efforts to serve citizens in need during periods of extremely cold weather, but there are tentative plans to move the warming center to the Ministry Center in the future to make it more accessible. He said only three people used the warming center during an ice storm last year.
Last night, the Ministry Center provided transportation as well as a warm meal for anyone wishing to stay at the warming center.
Scott Taylor, director of the Ministry Center, said the facility at 766 Harkrider St. would open at 5:30 p.m., and staff would serve the meal at 6 p.m. He said the meal was only available to those who planned to stay at the McGee Center because the building is not equipped for larger crowds.
"We don’t know how many we’ll have, but we’re prepared," said Taylor. "We just want to provide a meal and get them out there because that’s a hard walk."
Transportation was provided from the Ministry Center to the McGee Center at 6:30 p.m. yesterday evening and back to the Ministry Center at 9 a.m. today.
Taylor said the services were not only for the homeless, but also for people who do not have electricity or gas. The Ministry Center also provides food, clothing and bedding for needy families daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, he said.
Spring Hunter, a case manager for the Ministry Center, said they sent out 200 notices about the meal and transportation in food boxes distributed by the Soul Food Cafe.
"The majority of the population we serve are probably housed, but we know that a significant portion of our homeless population use Soul Food," she said. "That’s our method of communication because they have contact with people who need it most."
(Staff writer Jessica Hauser can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 505-1277 or on Twitter @jmthauser. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to thecabin.net. Send us your news at thecabin.net/submit)