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Brookhaven to get new emergency alert system

A city-wide emergency alert system is coming to Brookhaven.

Currently there isn’t a system in place to alert people of important issues going on in the city.

“We’re going to use this for anything and everything we can,” said Water Department Superintendent Kris Xifos. “It can be used for emergencies, road closures, inclement weather and many more things.”

The Brookhaven Board of Alderman Tuesday approved the system. There were two separate quotes. IRIS came in at $6,555 and Highground Solutions’ bid was $5,700.

The board approved IRIS over the other because of recommendations from Xifos.

“It’s more bang for your buck. We can use this for weather alerts, boil-water alerts, which we hope never have to do again. It also has 24/7 customer support,” Xifos said.

He said IRIS is specifically designed for water systems. It is used by the Mississippi Rural Water Association and the National Rural Water Association. They both recommended using this system.

In January, the city of Brookhaven experienced a week-long boil-water advisory. About 12,500 customers were placed under the notice, but there was confusion regarding which customers were affected.

Xifos said he hopes they will never have to use a boil-water advisory again, but if they do, he said the new system will bring clarity.

“If we would have had this system during the boil-water notice, we could have singled out people to let them know who was affected,” he said. “Two things have happened in our recent past that we hope we don’t experience again. One was the boil-water notice and the other were the shootings that happened. This system will be a tool to alert the immediate public of any type of emergency situation.”

Eight people were fatally shot in Lincoln County in May. As Brookhaven police searched for the shooter, they did not have a reliable system available to get the word out to the public about a potentially dangerous  situation.

There are several levels of alerts on the system, ranging from urgent to basic.

Now that the board approved the system, Xifos wants to train supervisors in various departments to learn how to use it. He said they could start training early next week and the new system could be ready within a couple of weeks.

“This is a city-wide project. We hope we can grow it to where we can involve the county. This will help make sure there are no misunderstandings or incorrect information being passed around,” said Xifos.

He said most customers who have water contracts with the city will be automatically signed up. He said they are going to send out more information in a few weeks and that it’s important to get as many people signed up as possible.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen approved:

• Hiring Reginald Cain and Brady Richardson as non-certified police officers.

• A Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan.

• Group benefit plans for city employees.

• Hiring Steve Moreton for consultation services.

• Pay request No. 3 from Greenbriar Digging Service in the amount of $36,765 for work completed on the 2015 Wastewater Improvemento Projects.

The next Board of Alderman meeting is Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the city board room.