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It's a Dickinson record!: The dog days of January

Press Photo by Jennifer McBride These two pooches have no qualms about resting outdoors Thursday afternoon on a porch at Sixth Avenue West and Second Street West. Dickinson hit a record temperature Thursday.

Dickinson hit a record 61 degrees Thursday and that meant more business for a few local ice cream/burger joints, less travel for people who spend vacation down south and fewer requests for state energy assistance.

Record high temperatures may be the reason for a drop in the number of heating assistance applications submitted from the area, according to the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

Don Knutson, director of Energy Assistance for NDDHS, said it is likely that temperatures reaching into the 50s and 60s are the reason the number of submissions for heating assistance in Stark County are down 18 percent from last year. As of Tuesday, 262 applications had been approved, a decrease from the 321 applications approved at the same time last year, Knutson said.

"We assume the biggest reason for that is the weather, of course," Knutson said. "With normal weather, we probably would have had considerably more applicants."

Knutson said 417 applications were approved in Stark County throughout all of last year.

The number of heating assistance applications may be low now, but Knutson has not written off the possibility of those numbers rising within the month.

"We would expect more (applications) by this time, but that can certainly change," Knutson said. "As everybody knows, (the weather) can change pretty quickly."

Accuweather meteorologist Dave Samuhel said temperatures in Dickinson reached a record high of 57 by 11 a.m. Thursday, and rose to 61 by 3 p.m.

Michelle Thomas, owner of Dairy Barn in Dickinson, said warmer temperatures have brought more customers in the past couple of days.

"Our 'Article.' That seems to be the hard one to keep on the shelves," Thomas said. "It's an ice cream log that's dipped in chocolate cone dip and rolled in graham crackers."

Thomas has also heard her customers comment on the unusually warm weather.

"There's been a few customers saying they can't believe they haven't headed down south yet," she chuckled.

The high temperature Wednesday was reported at 54 degrees, falling short of a 2008 record of 55, Samuhel said. He also said the high temperature Tuesday tied with a 2008 record temperature of 53.

Though Thursday was a record at 61 degrees, Dickinson has witnessed a warmer January with a 63-degree record set in 1981, Samuhel said.

Despite the warmer weather, when looking at the entire state of North Dakota, Knutson said 10,897 heating assistance applications had been approved as of Tuesday. That number represents a 9 percent drop in the amount of applications the NDDHS approved this time last year.

The NDDHS, based out of Bismarck, aims to assist individuals dealing with emotional crises, disabling conditions, a lack of financial resources or an inability to protect themselves.

Knutson said more applications tend to be submitted in counties that are "more populous." When looking at the demand for heating assistance throughout the entire state, he said the most applications usually come from Cass County.

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