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Warner Robins readies for tonight's Independence celebration

WARNER ROBINS — With every Independence Day celebration, Warner Robins police develop a plan for handling the influx of people into and around McConnell-Talbert Stadium, and tonight’s event is no exception.

The crowd last year was estimated at 25,000, police said.

“Anytime you are dealing with high-density events where you have a mass of vehicles and pedestrians, you have to have some type of plan in place,” Warner Robins police Lt. Todd Edwards said. “We just want to do our part to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable atmosphere.”

The plan is a cooperative effort among a host of public safety officers from law enforcement to emergency medical workers to firefighters to manage traffic, move people and provide security, he said.

It includes road closures, for example, to allow police and emergency vehicles quick access and movement around the event in case of an emergency, Edwards said. If someone needs to be taken to the hospital, response time is critical, he said.

One road closure in particular, which is Demon Valley Drive, also protects the crowd from any potential fallout from the fireworks staging area, Edwards said.

There’s also a central command post set up near the main gate that includes a mobile command vehicle as well as a triage area in case anyone gets too hot, has an accident or needs other medical attention, Edwards said.

Also, police, fire and other public safety officers, who will be positioned throughout the crowd, are in direct communication with the command post, Edwards said.

Public safety officers utilize police dogs and all-terrain vehicles. The Georgia State Patrol has a helicopter on stand-by, an ambulance is on site and police officers have an aerial view of the event from the stadium sky box, Edwards said.

Here are some event advisory facts from a Warner Robins police news release on stadium access, parking and road closures:

STADIUM ACCESS

Pedestrians may enter McConnell-Talbert Stadium at two locations: The Main Gate and the gate at Demon Valley and Davis Drive.

Gates open at 6 p.m.

PARKING

There will be seven general parking areas and one for handicapped.

Motorists are advised to use only parking spaces.

The areas are Crossroads School, McConnell-Talbert Stadium, Rumble Academy, Old Shoppette area at Education Way, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Robins Federal Credit Union and City of Warner Robins municipal complex.

Handicapped parking will be in a marked area adjacent to the Main Gate at Mconnell-Talbert Stadium.

It will be accessible only for properly permitted vehicles with a handicap display.

Parking will not be permitted on Macon State College’s campus in Warner Robins because summer classes are in session. In fact, celebration-goers can expect vehicles to be towed at the owner’s expense for parking at the campus for the event as well as any other areas where parking is prohibited, police warned.

Other areas where parking is not permitted include city streets, shoulders, rights of ways, sidewalks or any improved grass areas of Sacred Heart Church, police said.

ROAD CLOSURES

Ÿ At noon today, Third Avenue from Davis Drive to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be closed to traffic and parking. Only pedestrian traffic will be permitted.

Ÿ At 4 p.m., Demon Valley Drive will be closed to all traffic and parking.

Ÿ At 5 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from Third Avenue to Huntington Village entrance will close to all southbound traffic.

PROHIBITED

No pets, alcohol, illicit drugs or weapons.

Coolers may be brought in but will be subject to inspection.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 923-3109, extension 243.

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