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Thursday, March 19, 2015
By +Scott Leffler

If Lockport is hit with another crushingly cold blast of winter, the area's homeless will have a place of respite.

When outdoor temperatures drop below 15 degrees, Lockport's mayor can issue a "code blue," alert, springing into action a plan that will open the doors of a local community center to house the homeless for the night.

The plan, put together by a group of organizations follows similar "code blue" designations around the country. The Lockport Common Council unanimously approved the measure Wednesday night.

While the "Code Blue Warming Center" will eventually be housed at the Salvation Army, until the new construction is done on the Cottage Street building, the Dale Association will serve as the temporary gathering place.

"It turns out our building is perfect because it meets all the necessary requirements," said Dale Association President Maureen Wendt. Those requirements include handicapped accessibility, separate areas for men and women, restrooms and an on-site kitchen.

Some details of the plan are still being worked on, Wendt said, including funding. Despite not knowing how it would be funded, Wendt said the Dale was happy to help.

The project is one of the first major projects put together by the group of civic organizations affectionately called the "Family Focus" group. Those organizations include the Dale Association, Salvation Army, The Chapel, the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, St. John's Outreach, Grace Episcopal Church and several others,

Chris Smith, assistant executive director of the Grigg-Lewis Foundation said the Family Focus group started as an effort to help area youth "and it just blossomed from there." The group meets monthly to discuss the combined improvement of each involved organization and the betterment of the city.

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