Aldermen OK plan for weather sirens

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Local officials are moving forward with aplan to put five weather alert sirens within Brookhaven’s citylimits pending final approval of a grant to help fund theproject.

    The city board of aldermen heard a progress report at its Tuesdaynight meeting from Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey regardinga grant application made through the Mississippi EmergencyManagement Agency and FEMA for the sirens. Galey said he hopes forfinal approval of the grant by February.

    The grant would provide 75 percent of necessary funds, requiringthe city to pay the remaining 25 percent. Galey estimates the costof purchasing five sirens at approximately $125,000.

    Galey told city leaders that estimate is based on a cost of $25,000per siren, but he said he believes sirens may end up closer to$20,000.

    At $125,000, the city would pay approximately $30,000 for the fivesirens, roughly half the money budgeted by the city for sirenpurchases.

    Previously, aldermen had amended the 2010-11 budget to allocate$30,000 for a siren, and had earmarked $35,000 in the 2011-12budget for weather sirens.

    The sirens have a one-mile radius and feature two distinct sounds,one for a tornado and one for some other kind of emergency, such asa train accident, Galey said.

    The company the sirens would be purchased from remainsundetermined.

    Galey provided board members with a map indicating the placement ofthe five sirens within the city and the one-mile radius of eachsiren.

    The siren placement requires final FEMA approval, but Galey feelsconfident regarding that approval.

    “The map is what has been recommended by people that know moreabout it than I do,” Galey said.

    Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell quibbled with the siren placement,noting that some areas within the city west of Interstate 55,including Home Depot and Linbrook Business Park, lie outside thecoverage provided by the sirens.

    Maxwell noted the coverage area of the two southern sirens overlapsignificantly and proposed moving the southwestern siren fartherwest to cover areas currently left out.

    In response, Galey said changing the map would delay the projectfurther as it would require him to locate a usable site and redoportions of the grant application.

    Galey said he believes the sirens would be audible outside thezones indicated on the map. Based on his visits to other citieswith sirens, Galey said the sirens can be heard up to a half-milepast the one-mile radius.

    “I feel very confident it will cover the new industrial park,”Galey said.

    Mayor Les Bumgarner suggested adding another siren might solve theproblem and said he did not want delays in the project.

    “We’ve been talking about this for years,” Bumgarner said. “I hateto see us get close and then get delayed.”

    Ward Six Alderman David Phillips concurred, proposing that Galeymove forward with the map as is and suggesting the city could add asixth siren later that would provide coverage to the areas ofconcerns for Maxwell.

    Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes suggested the county mightcontribute to the cost of a sixth siren since a siren placed westof Interstate 55 would be audible in areas outside city limits.Galey said he would discuss the idea with county officials.

    Maxwell agreed that a sixth siren would be ideal.

    “That would be super,” he said.

    Provided the grant approval comes in by February, Galey hopes sireninstallation can proceed quickly.

    “I hope that everything falls into place so that we are able tohave the sirens functioning by the severe weather in the spring,”Galey said. “That’s my goal but I may get hung up.”

    Tuesday night the city board also approved Johnny Lynch for an advalorem tax exemption that Lynch’s new downtown business the Inn onWhitworth qualified for.

    Board members also heard from Water Department Superintendent LannyDickey regarding emergency repairs to a well that the city’sinsurance will cover.