County will be prepared for eclipse


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Monday, April 8 could be a busy day in Darke County. The path of totality for the solar eclipse runs through Darke County, and many people will be making their way to the community. Not only is it unique to have totality sweep through Darke County, the length of totality will near four minutes in this area and will be over four minutes in northern Mexico. The county is expected to witness three minutes, 56 seconds of totality. According to, this eclipse will be the longest and most visible in the United States in the past 100 years.

Darke County EMA (Emergency Management Agency), first responders, health department, schools, elected officials and businesses are finalizing plans for an influx of visitors coming to the county. A final preparation meeting was held last week to nail down the last-minute details of the event.

Although Darke County is preparing for additional visitors, the weather may play a part in where visitors go to see the eclipse. The local hotels are reporting they are full for that weekend with visitors coming from as far away as California. The Darke County Fairgrounds already has approximately 300 campers coming in for that weekend. Eldora Speedway has opened up its camping for eclipse watchers but aren’t seeing as many registrations as they initially thought they would see. That could change if this area gets a great forecast for April 8.

Although we are over a week away from the event, forecasters are not predicting a cloud free day. The Weather Channel’s extended forecast is calling for a 24 percent chance of rain and cloudy skies, but that changes frequently until we get to a few days out. Aaron Wilson, a climatologist with The Ohio State University who spoke at the Darke County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Luncheon, gave a grim report of there being a 70 percent chance that it will be cloudy.

However, events throughout downtown Greenville and around the county will go on with a weekend filled with activities. Several organizations, including the Darke County Parks, libraries around the county, Darke County Fairgrounds, Greenville VFW, and other organizations are planning events for the day of the eclipse. There is a fee for some of the activities. Check with the organizations to find the cost.

How will Darke County handle this event? Darke County Sheriff Mark Whittaker said his office will have extra officers on the road throughout the day on April 8. Because the schools have all announced they will not be in class that day, he will use the SROs that are dedicated to the schools to be on the road. The Ohio Highway Patrol will also be sending four officers to the county and will be placed where Sheriff Whittaker believes there is a need. Local EMS departments will have additional people on staff. If they generally have enough people to staff one ambulance, they will be bringing enough people to staff two ambulances. Local fire departments are also aware of the possibility of issues with additional people in the county and are preparing for an emergency.

Ken Johnson, with Darke County EMA, warned if there is an influx of people there could be issues with cell phones and internet. When more people are trying to use the service that could limit how well calls and texts go through. If you are having difficulty making phone calls, Johnson said changing your phone’s setting to allow WiFi calling could help.

Johnson warned 9-1-1 could be impacted and to watch and listen to the media for information on how to get in touch with dispatch if it goes down. He encouraged residents to sign up for Code Red to get emergency notifications on their phones.

Because the eclipse will travel the length of the state from south to north and west to east, Darke County was only able to secure one Ohio Department of Transportation mobile message board. The board will provide information to motorists and will be put up in a high traffic area. Sheriff Whittaker will determine the messaging.

Wayne HealthCare is also preparing for the event. The hospital will be open as usual, and the Primary Care office will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. All other offices in the building with Primary Care will be closed that day. Family Health announced they will be seeing patients until noon that day.

Several organizations are offering eclipse glasses either for a fee or with a fee. Don’t look at the sun without a pair of glasses. Johnson also warned not to look at the sun with glasses that are scratched or wrinkled.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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