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City OK’d for weather siren grant

Brookhaven has been awarded a grant that will cover most of the cost to install five weather alert sirens within the city limits.

     Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey told aldermen Tuesday night the city’s application for a grant through FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has been officially approved and will cover 95 percent of the cost to purchase and install the sirens. That means out of an approved project cost of $117,600, grant money will pick up $111,000, with the city covering the rest.

     “I’m really glad that it’s happening,” Galey said. “I think it’s a good thing.”

     The original plan called for the grant to cover 75 percent of costs, with the city picking up the remaining 25 percent. However, Galey reported he was able to successfully have the grant increased to cover 95 percent of costs.

     Galey hopes the bidding process for the sirens can be completed by the end of July or early August. He has a goal of having the sirens operational by November, in time for tornado season.

     Galey urged caution, though, and suggested that timeline may be a little optimistic.

     “It would be pushing pretty hard but that’s the goal I set for the project,” Galey said.

     Even if Galey’s goals are not met, the project does have an end in sight. The terms of the grant require the project be completed by Nov. 23, 2013.

     There are still some project details to be completed, including who will have the authority to activate the sirens. Galey said there will probably be at least three locations from which the sirens can be activated.

     Galey warned that the sirens will be outdoor warning sirens, and people indoors may not be able to hear them. He hopes a pending FEMA phone alert system will provide a good complement to the sirens.

     Through the FEMA alert system, the customers of participating cell phone carriers will automatically receive text message alerts when they area they are in experiences severe weather. Older phones may not be able to receive the messages, however.

     Tentatively, the sirens will be located at 906 Highway 51, at the end of East Washington Street, at the corner of Field Lark Lane and Industrial Park Road, at the corner of Fender Trail and Manufacturers Boulevard and at the corner of Monticello Street and North Jackson Street.

     There has been some discussion of putting the downtown siren on a metal pole instead of a wooden pole, but there has been some concern the metal pole will attract lightening.

     The downtown pole will be located somewhere around the Lincoln County Public Library and the Mississippi School of the Arts. Galey said the metal pole would also be more expensive but he will set up the bid so that companies offer bids for both a metal pole and a wooden pole.

     Ward Six Alderman David Phillips said he had suggested the metal pole for aesthetic reasons but doesn’t feel it’s a significant issue if the wooden one is cheaper.

     In other business, Mayor Les Bumgarner reported to aldermen the air conditioning in the Goldbold Transportation Center will be replaced following a recent failure in the system.

     D.W. Maxwell, of Ward Five, and Terry Bates, of Ward Two, both expressed displeasure that the air conditioning must be replaced after only a little over a year.

     “We spent a lot of money up there,” Bates said, suggesting the original project contractor should be responsible for the repairs.