August 16, 2017 Edition

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Protecting eyes is necessity
for viewing eclipse

John Bland
Publisher

Faithful reader Cherry Nichols of Hoxie shared a newspaper article from Crystal City, Mo., sent by her sister. The Leader Publications of Jefferson County, just south of St. Louis, report that people from around the world will be heading to Jefferson County to view the total eclipse on Monday and to attend various activities going on in the days leading up to the event.

According to The Leader, the city of Herculaneum is one of only three official NASA-sanctioned viewing sites in the region, and the Festus Public Library is one of only three in the nation to partner with NASA for coverage of the event.

When the moon passes between Earth and the sun on Monday, the moon will cast a round shadow on our planet that will travel in a diagonal line from Oregon to South Carolina. Anyone inside the 75-mile-wide shadow, (including Jefferson County, Mo.,) called the "path of totality," will experience a total eclipse. In Jefferson County, the eclipse will start around 11:45 a.m. and end just before 3 p.m., with totality coming around 1:15 p.m.

Don Ficken, a former Festus resident who is chairman of the St. Louis Eclipse 2017 Task Force, stressed that it would be extremely dangerous to look at the eclipse without eye protection.

"This is serious,'" he said. "You can permanently damage your eyesight if you look up at it, even for a second." Special protective glasses are a necessity.

Other news sources say that the harmful rays can even damage the camera of a cell phone, without the proper solar lenses.

I recall reading the story in the 1970s of a teenage girl who was watching a movie in a theater, and for her, the screen started gradually going black. The story, probably in Reader's Digest, went on to explain that she had looked up at an eclipse a few hours earlier and had burned the retinas of her eyes.

I'll probably be keeping my eyes on the ground and look at news images and video of the eclipse.

*********

Memphis' Local 24 ABC television station recently reported that the Environmental Protection Agency has ranked Memphis 10th in the country among mid-size cities for having the most Energy Star certified buildings in 2016.

The station interviewed Jeff Haltom in regard to the ranking. Haltom attended Walnut Ridge School in junior high and high school in the 1970s, when his father was the United Methodist pastor here.

The interview noted that Jeff has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to making the mid-south a little more environmentally friendly. His company, Haltom Engineering in downtown Memphis, helps businesses reduce their energy output to become Energy Star certified.

Haltom's company helped design unique heating and cooling systems for Shelby Farms using a geothermal heat pump system that uses the lake water to cool and heat the buildings.

Another project of Haltom's company is the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.

"We actually make ice at nighttime," says Haltom. "Then in the daytime when energy costs go up and demand goes up, we can bleed off of this ice bank for free cooling," he told the news station.

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