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Weather Station Installed at Aiken

Aiken Elementary is the first school in KTVB's coverage area and the only school in Oregon to receive a weather station.  

Steve Park, owner of Star Satellite in Star, and Jeremy Turner adjust the direction of a 15-foot-tall weather station at Aiken Elementary School in Ontario. The weather station is attached to the side of the school and extends above the roof. It is connected to a computer inside the building, and the KTVB weather crew will have access to Ontario weather at Aiken via Internet.

Rick Strack, chief engineer at KTVB, works on connecting the school's server with Channel 7, which donated the weather station and AirWatch software. Aiken Elementary School needed to supply a computer.

KTVB will eventually have about 10 weather stations installed between Ontario and Twin Falls.  According to Doug Armstrong, president and general manager of News Channel 7, an affiliate of NBC, the purpose of installing a weather station in an Oregon school is for a more complete weather forecast while giving children an opportunity to study thousands of temperatures around the world.   

"Malheur County generally, and Ontario specifically, are very important parts of our coverage area," Armstrong said. "We know weather patterns go from west to east. Ontario sits northwest of Boise and when we're giving weather reports from Boise we know it doesn't mean Ontario is getting the same thing."   

The 15-foot weather station, attached to the side of Aiken and extending above the roof, is connected to one of Aiken's computers, which will compile data which News Channel 7 can access via Internet.   

KTVB purchased six of the weather stations from the Automated Weather Service in Maryland and has plans to put the other stations in Twin Falls, Ketchum, Nampa, Emmett and Sun Valley schools, with more stations in the future to dot the perimeter of News Channel 7's coverage area.   

"We're working exclusively with schools because we have a major commitment to children in general," Armstrong said, adding KTVB will get better weather information and provide an asset to the school system "that will help with their science curriculum because there is curriculum that goes with this."   

"Children can access climates and compare and contrast them," Aiken Principal Luigi Yannotta said. "They can use this for research and reports.   

"The kids in Ontario will be able to access (temperatures) all over the country and online, and teachers will have the curriculum," he said, adding the news station is considering sending a meteorologist to Aiken to discuss weather with the children.   

Rick Strack, chief engineer at KTVB, was at Aiken Elementary Tuesday afternoon making contact with KTVB via cellular phone while working on the software settings and installations.   

Strack estimates Aiken will be online by the end of the week. "I think this is a neat project," he said. "This gives schools a good science tool." "There isn't any reason why Aiken Elementary was selected over the others," Armstrong said.  "We just wanted it in Ontario."   

Weather stations cost about $5,000 apiece, and KTVB is also donating the AirWatch software to compile weather information. Aiken only needed to provide a computer, which is set up in the school's media center.   
   
KTVB installed the first of these weather stations at the Discovery Center, a museum dedicated to science, in Boise.   

"We started with the Discovery Center because of the science connection" Armstrong said, adding children frequently go to the Discovery Center for field trips.   

These weather stations will report humidity, rainfall, temperature, wind chill and dew point.   

"The National Weather Service has one placed at the Boise Municipal Airport for flight safety," Armstrong said. "Traditionally, that's the way it's been, but the technology for Aiken is no different than the technology used by the Weather Service at the airport."   
 
Dawn Eden / Argus Observer / February 25, 1999   
Photos by Larry Hoffman.