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Communities pursuing emergency siren system

Wesson officials will soon be able to alert their citizens incase of extreme weather through a siren system, and Brookhavenofficials are working toward a similar project.

Wesson recently received a Homeland Security grant for $29,000to install two new emergency alert sirens. One will replace the oldsiren at the police department and one will be put in at the northend of town.

Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw said the project will begin some timenext week.

In addition, Shaw said, Copiah County is putting warning sirensin at schools in the county, so there will be one at WessonAttendance Center and one at Copiah-Lincoln Community College aswell.

Shaw said the sirens can be set off from a number of differentplaces, including Copiah County Emergency Operations Center, thepolice department or certain handheld units.

“The two we’re getting will also have a PA system that will beused for letting people know what is going on,” said Shaw.

The system is important, Shaw said, for keeping citizens safeand updated when disasters happen.

“Just in times of emergency or natural disaster the citizens canstay informed of what could potentially be occurring,” Shaw said.”In addition it will put us to the point where we can apply to theNational Weather Service to become a certified storm-readycommunity.”

Brookhaven is hoping to have a similar system in the future aswell.

Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said a preapplication forthe grant through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wasturned in Wednesday.

“It would be for eight warning sirens to cover the entire citylimits, as well as all the equipment needed to operate it,” saidGaley.

Mayor Bob Massengill said city officials have long hoped toinstall such a system to alert citizens of disasters.

“This is something we’ve thought about for a while, and it woulddefinitely be beneficial to the city,” Massengill said. “We hope wenever have to use it, but we will certainly be happy if we receivethe grant.”

The system would cost a total of $160,000, but Massengill saidthe city would only be paying $8,500 out of pocket for it. The$8,500 would be the city’s matching portion under grantguidlines.

“That’s not even the cost of one of these sirens,” Massengillsaid.

Galey said the sirens would go on pre-existing structures suchas light poles and would be located at strategic points so thesound areas would overlap to cover the entire city. There would bethree emergency-specific sounds to the sirens to alert citizens incase of weather, some form of attack or other event.

The alarms would be activated from Galey’s office and the policedepartment.

Galey said currently there’s no way to know exactly when thedecision will be made on grant funds. After the pre-application isscreened, there is a full application process, at which time bothMEMA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have to approvethe application.

“It’s likely to be several months,” Galey said.