Rural Residents Must Travel to Use Cooling Stations

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COLUMBIA - With temperatures in the mid 90's Tuesday, the state offered free cooling stations to the public--but mostly in cities rather than rural communities.

The Department of Health and Senior Services provides a map of cooling centers throughout Missouri, which are public places the department considers safe places to sit and enjoy the air-conditioning during the hot summer months.

All nine cooling centers in Boone County are within Columbia city limits. No cooling centers lie in any other parts of Boone County. Someone in Sturgeon would have to travel more than 20 miles to get to the nearest cooling station.

When KOMU 8 News tried to contact the department to ask how it picked locations, public information representative Ryan Hobart would only e-mail us back, saying the facilities volunteer their services.

Jenny McDonald of one of Columbia's centers, the Columbia Public Library, said she believed the department asked if it could use the library.

"I think it was more like ask than pick," McDonald said.

McDonald said there is no way to determine how many people use the library specifically as a cooling center.

The same goes for Cole County, where Jefferson City houses all five designated cooling centers.