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Storm warning system moves closer

Lincoln County residents may soon have the choice of gettingelectronic and mobile device notification of severe weather,following a discussion at Monday’s supervisors board meeting.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeyproposed to the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday morningthat the county adopt a severe weather warning notification systemin which residents would be notified via home phone, cell phone orhome computer. In particular, Galey said this would benefit peoplewho live out in the county, great distances from the severe threatsirens.

“It’s cheaper to use texting, home phones and computers ratherthan get more sirens,” Galey said.

Galey estimated the annual cost to be at most $10,000 to $15,000a year.

When asked questions by members of the board about people who donot have phones or who live in bad service areas, Galeyacknowledged some uncertainty and said some would not get themessage.

“I really don’t know the answer to that,” he said.

Galey explained that people in some rural areas with poor cellphone reception have a better chance of getting the severe weatherwarning by electronic means than by relying on hearing the sirensalone. Officials also touted the value of weather radios.

Brookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner, who was present for the meeting,said an “opt in/opt out” system would be critical in deciding tomake the system available to residents.

People would be able to choose whether or not they wanted theelectronic notification service. The board agreed that residentswould need to be given the choice to sign up for the service ratherthan have every listed number in Lincoln County receive the servicewithout question.

Board members considered that there may be some people who mightnot be up at late hours of the night to see that they have a severeweather warning message, and that still other people rely onweather radios.

“Whoever wants to sign up, signs up,” Galey said.

Galey went on to say that schools and businesses could takeadvantage of the service as well. Notifications would be sent toadministrators and employers who would then be able to send themessage on to employees.

Supervisors Doug Moak and Gary Walker were appointed to acommittee to meet with city officials and Galey to determine howbest to proceed with weather warning system implementation. Thatmeeting, though, may be a couple of weeks away as most supervisorsare attending a state convention on the coast the rest of this weekand city officials have their state municipal meeting nextweek.

Bumgarner was eager to get moving on the weather system.

“We’ve kicked this can down the road long enough,” the mayorsaid as he was leaving the county meeting. “It’s time to dosomething.”

Bumgarner said the weather alert system would be the first stepfor the city. The second step could be weather sirens.

In other business, officials were a little conflicted on how toenforce a burn ban that covers fireworks in light of the upcomingFourth of July holiday, a traditional time for fireworks. Galeysaid the ban is expected to remain in effect until July 5.

“Right now, we haven’t had enough rain to lift it,” Galeysaid.

Officials agreed that Sheriff Steve Rushing did not have themanpower to monitor fireworks. They were hopeful people would bemindful of the dangers, adding that those who shoot fireworks wouldbe responsible for any damages that result.

“We don’t normally have trouble with fireworks,” Galey said.”People are going to do it.”

Also Monday, an upcoming restroom renovation project could provea little uncomfortable for government complex users. The $32,510project involving the upstairs restrooms, the only publicfacilities in the building, is anticipated to be done in July.

A portable restroom was suggested to be located in the rear ofthe complex, but officials were leery of that idea.

“It really hasn’t been the most popular thing in the world,”said Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, acknowledging women’s concernswith such a setup.

In a related matter, supervisors rejected the lone bid submittedto do a renovations work as part of an energy efficiency upgradeproject at the complex. The board will re-advertise after theapproximately $410,000 bid was more than the $300,000 grant amountavailable.

In a letter from Board Attorney Bob Allen, he informedsupervisors that “under no circumstances” is the county responsiblefor paying more than the contracted $265,335 for engineeringservices related to an Eddiceton Road project. An engineer appearedat a previous board meeting to advise supervisors of cost concernsrelated to the engineering work.