Apple visits city council, parks to get new Thor Guard Weather Notification System
MADISON – The Madison city council had a special guest visit at the last council meeting. Apple the black Labrador and the new Huntsville-Madison Hospital Foundation Canines for Coping dog at Madison Hospital made a public appearance before the city council. Apple recently joined the Huntsville-Madison Hospital Foundation Canines for Coping team, which includes three other service dogs, Vivian, Asteroid, and Orbit. While Vivian, Asteroid, and Orbit work full-time at Huntsville Hospital, Apple is the first service dog to serve at Madison Hospital. Her job consists vitally in supporting a broad range of the hospital’s patients, including pediatric surgery patients, mental health patients, those diagnosed with dementia, and more, as well as their families along with her handler, Joe Taylor.
Apple also brings emotional and psychological support to employees. “I cannot begin to explain the joy and difference she has made to Madison Hospital already to our patients, to our family members, but to our employees as well,” said Madison Hospital president Mary Lynn Wright. “When Apple and Joe go up on the floor, the difference in the whole demeanor of our staff changes, and I think we have fabulous employees all the time, but when Apple is present they go over the top with just getting to interact with her.”
Apple hails from California where she was trained as an official service dog. She comes to Madison Hospital thanks to the generous donation of a local couple, Sheryl and Pat Thomason, who made the donation in memory of their son, Patrick Thomason, who passed away earlier this year. According to the Huntsville Hospital Foundation website, the benefits of service dogs in hospitals include “improved psychosocial functioning and mood, increased healing, relaxation and self-confidence, decreased anxiety and perception of pain, and reduced blood pressure and heart rate”.
A new Thor Guard Weather Notification System will be installed at Dublin and Palmer Parks as an improved safety measure to alert visitors at the parks of severe weather and other emergencies requiring evacuation of the fields and the swimming pool at Dublin Park. The system consists of sirens throughout the parks that will automatically alert visitors of emergencies and will give an all-clear signal. The system will cost $86,470 to install, a steep price that Park and Recreation Director Kory Alfred said he struggled with but decided was worth the benefits it provides to citizens’ safety.
“It’s predictive instead of reactive, “Alfred commented on the choice of this system in particular. According to Alfred, unlike other models, the Thor Guard Weather Notification System uses predictive data to send out alerts prior to severe weather hitting the given area, allowing ample time to evacuate safely.
Various infrastructure projects were given attention and financial approvals at the meeting. Payments were made on Balch Road improvements, Wall Triana and I-565 improvements, and Madison Branch Boulevard/Hardiman Road roundabout. Property was purchased for the Browns Ferry Road Culvert Project from the Heritage Station HOA for $4,500, and the placement of sod was approved for the Gillespie Roundabout. The council also approved $27,000 for winter holiday decorations in downtown Madison.
The next city council meeting will take place at city hall on August 28 at 6 pm.