Have fun, but put safety first for 2011 countdown
WORTHINGTON -- Bad judgment and worse weather can be a lethal combination, especially when alcohol is involved, so the Nobles County Sheriff's Office and the Worthington Police Department are encouraging anyone who over-imbibes tonight to put down their keys and pick up a phone to call for a free Safe Cab ride.
But be aware, warned Nobles County Chief Deputy Chris Heinrichs, that the unpredictability of Minnesota weather may keep the Safe Cabs in town this year.
Normally, the three Worthington Taxi cabs operated as Safe Cabs during King Turkey Day and on New Year's Eve shuttle partygoers in, about and out of town after a night of revelry, but if weather does not permit, the cabs may not leave city limits tonight.
"I can't speak for (Worthington Taxi owner) Randy Junker, but if they start to limit leaving town, I wouldn't plan on coming to town and getting a ride home if you live any distance out of the city of Worthington," Heinrichs stated.
Thursday's forecast from the National Weather Service stated southwest Minnesota could expect blowing and drifting snow today, continuing into the evening hours, with wind chills well below zero degrees.
"I would suggest people really monitor the weather, even within hours of your New Year's Eve plans, and adjust your plans accordingly," Heinrichs said. "With this storm, 50 miles one way or the other can make a complete difference in what happens. With blowing snow and 20 below wind chills, you may want to alter plans and stay home or close to home."
Anyone planning to travel out of town should prearrange a place to stay for the evening, he said.
"By midnight or 1 a.m., you might not be able to travel whether you're sober or not, so you might want to have a back-up plan so you have a place to stay the night," he added.
This particular storm, although predicted well in advance, has been tough for experts to pinpoint, so keeping an eye on its progress is probably the safest thing to do when it comes to welcoming in 2011 safely.
The Safe Cabs will run from 10 p.m. until needed, generally around 2 a.m., and pick people up from bars and house parties. Anyone needing a ride can call 372-4300.
"If you don't feel you should be driving, call the number and they'll come get you," Heinrichs stated. "As always, the ride is free to you."
In addition to the sheriff's office, the police department and Worthington Taxi, the Safe Cab program, which provides free rides for more than 150 people each King Turkey Day and anywhere from 75 to 100 people each New Year's Eve, is sponsored by local businesses. This year's sponsors include The Ground Round, Hagen Beverage Distributing, Schaap Sanitation, Pellegrino Fire Extinguisher Service, Hedeen, Hughes & Wetering, the Hickory Lodge Bar & Grill, Nickel & Associates, Sanford Worthington, Avera Specialty Clinics and Holiday Inn Express.