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The place to be? Inside

Sauk Valley shelters offer warmth to homeless

STERLING – Two men and a woman played monopoly Friday morning, seated at a corner of a large table.

With a thunderous laugh, the woman made sure her competitors followed the rules. She insisted she get paid rent when they landed on her properties, even if it was only $4 in Monopoly money.

She got especially excited while passing Go.

“I’m rich now,” she said.

One thing she wasn’t – cold.

The three were staying at the Twin Cities PADS homeless shelter.

Usually, the shelter closes during the day. But when the temperature is 10 degrees or lower, the doors stay open.

At 8 a.m., the temperature was minus 2. It rose to 7 a few hours later, with 12-mph winds.

Since last week’s cold spell, about a dozen people have been staying at the shelter in Sterling, Director Myles Newberry said. Its capacity is 28.

Most of the residents left for the day Friday, going to GED classes or taking care of other business, Newberry said. Four remained – the three Monopoly players and another man who played a video game on a computer. The History Channel was on TV in the background.

“We’ve had a movie marathon the last 2 days,” Newberry said.

Dixon’s homeless shelter, which is open around the clock, is nearly full, with 18 adults and six children.

“We are filled to capacity for men, other than emergency overnight shelter, which is a spot on the couch for the night,” said Darla Tarbill, supervisor at Dixon’s PADS shelter. “This time of year, it’s normally full.”

In the winter, a number of homeless people spend time at Sterling Public Library, particularly when the shelter closes during the day.

“They’re welcome to be in here as long as they don’t sleep,” said Mary Bradshaw, the young adult librarian. “They have to be doing something.”

Few people around the Sauk Valley ventured outside Friday, unless they had to. They walked briskly from their cars to buildings.

So far, the cold weather hasn’t deterred people from staying fit – at least at the Westwood recreational complex, said Bridget Conklin, a Westwood employee.

“After the first of the year, people are motivated to lose weight,” she said. “They keep going in January, February and March, but they often quit going after that.”

The regulars keep coming, no matter the weather.

“Some of them come at 4 a.m.,” Conklin said. “They’re very dedicated.”

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