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Schools expect to finalize closing plans today

Plans for the closings of Troy City and Pike County school systems due to Hurricane Ivan will be finalized on Tuesday. Both school systems are considering

dismissing school some time on Wednesday.

Pike County Superintendent of Education Dr. Mark Bazzell said the county board of education will decide at 10 a.m. today based on current weather information.

"Right now, plans are to us to get in a full day Wednesday," he said. "However, if things speed up, we may need to close schools at lunch on Wednesday. We have many students who live in trailers, so we need to give these families plenty of time to go to shelters, leave town (or make other arrangements)."

Bazzell said an announcement will be made about school on Thursday by the time students leave school on Wednesday.

"In all likelihood, we will cancel school Thursday, depending on the impact on Pike County," he said. "At some point a decision about Friday will be made. With regard to the football games, I will make a decision Friday morning about their status. If travel is dangerous, we will need to cancel regardless of the conditions of the stadiums and (other factors)."

Troy City Schools will also make the decision on when to close today.

"We will make a decision tomorrow before school is out, right now the information we have is looking like landfall somewhere between Mobile and Panama City Florida," Dr. Linda Felton-Smith said. "There is a possibility we may close early on Wednesday and for the whole day on Thursday if it is needed."

With Hurricane Ivan projected to make landfall on Wednesday night or early Thursday somewhere between Pensacola and Mobile, south Alabama could experience winds between 45 and 85 miles per hour and gusts even stronger, said Jane Thrash, director of the Pike County Red Cross.

"Of course, we don't know what Ivan is going to do but we know that in all likelihood, we are going to be affected," she said. "What people need to do now is to make plans for themselves and their families. We are encouraging

those who live in mobile homes to make plans to go to the home of a friend or family member in a low-lying area. When you leave home, you should take medications

and personal items with you."

Thrash said shelter openings for evacuees will be announced

today either after the 10:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m. briefings.

"Evacuations for the counties below us in the Panhandle are voluntary right now, but mandatory evacuation will be issued as the storm moves closer," she said.

Thrash said even Florida evacuees

will be encouraged to keep moving further north.

"What Emergency Management is being told right now is that the Hurricane Ivan will probably make landfall as a Category

3 hurricane," she said.

Thrash said WTBF will broadcast

up-to-the-minute

weather

information. Other weather information is available by calling the local EMA office at 566-8272 or 674-1080 or 1-866-GET INFO.