Aldermen signal desire to install weather sirens

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2011

While tornado relief efforts are on the minds of Brookhavenresidents, preventative measures were the thoughts of city aldermenas they discussed plans for sirens at Tuesday’s board meeting.

City aldermen have been seeking sirens for quite some time, butmoney has been the force behind not getting them implemented.However, with the destruction felt from tornadoes all across theSouth in recent weeks, aldermen are determined to overcome thestrong winds of financial limitations.

“I really think the people of Brookhaven are ready for sirens,”said Mayor Les Bumgarner. “If we can’t do it now, let’s at leaststart preparing and get it into next year’s budget.”

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In the midst of trying to figure out a way to fund part of theestimated $200,000 cost to warn citizens of inclement weather,Bumgarner attended a conference on the Coast last Wednesday andsought advice from area mayors on how they footed the bill of awarning system. However, money seems to be scarce.

“Nobody out there knows of any grants for sirens at this pointin time,” Bumgarner informed the aldermen.

While aldermen felt the importance and the need for havingsirens in place, they also agreed that they are part of a biggerpicture.

Bumgarner pointed out that sirens are only one factor in keepingpeople safe and that the public should not be lured into a falsesense of security just because a warning system is in place.

“These things are not designed to wake you up in the middle ofthe night,” the mayor said.

As money has been the challenge to installing sirens, aldermenbegan pondering ways to help offset costs. They mentioned thepossibility of shifting funds from one area of the budget or evenusing local assistance to install the fixtures to mount the sirenson to counteract expenses.

“I think we need to figure out a way to get it done,” saidBumgarner.

While using a form of text alerts has since gone by the waysidebecause aldermen felt it would not reach a large enough audience,Ward Six Alderman David Phillips introduced an alert system that iscurrently being used in Adams County.

The CodeRed Weather Warning is an emergency alert system thatdelivers an automated pre-recorded response for various types ofinclement weather to residents’ phones in the projected path ofsevere weather.

“This would be just another tool with the sirens if we could getthe county to participate with us and share these costs,” saidPhillips.

Phillips said the system costs Adams County roughly $14,000 tofund the system, which he said comes out to be less than 50 centsper person for the year.

He also said the system can be tailored to fit the needs of thecity and its residents.

“It’s very flexible that you can opt in or out,” saidPhillips.

In other news, the Multi-Modal Transportation Facility willremain on track despite the bid for Phase III of the project beingreissued.

In early April, the board accepted a bid of $84,900 from GulfSouth Construction, LLC to add an additional 320 feet to thecurrent platform length of 80 feet. However, the constructioncompany withdrew its bid.

“They overlooked some costs,” Bumgarner said.

Putting the final touches on the facility will be Greenbriar ata cost of $106,200.

Reissuing the bid is not expected to delay progress on thecompletion of the facility.

“It keeps everything on track,” said Bumgarner.

The extended platform is coming at no cost to the city. A grantthough the Mississippi Department of Transportation will fund 80percent of the expenses and Amtrak will be covering the city’s 20percent share of the project.