County will explore options for weather sirens

Published 4:49 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Chilton County Commission plans to research options for a more cost-effective plan relating to the 24 weather sirens located throughout the county.

The decision to research more options came after county administrator Connie Powell addressed commissioners in a work session on Monday night.

Powell told commissioners that after the sirens were narrow banded, they are now in need of changing frequencies on which they operate.

The frequency change of being taken off the county firefighter frequency and onto the county Emergency Management Agency frequency is something that still needs to happen and Powell told commissioners the sirens now need maintenance at an additional cost.

Powell said she wanted guidance from the commission on how to move forward.

“Do we want to try to fix the sirens at an additional cost or do we want to look at different options?” Powell said.

Commission chairman Allen Caton said the commission needed to decide if they wanted to be in the weather siren “business” or not.

“Due to the sirens being older, we are going to have to continue spending money to fix them,” Caton said. “I wish there was some other system that we could do instead of spending so much money on maintaining the ones we already have.”

Powell said another issue that comes up with the sirens is they are often damaged due to people knocking them down or not taking care of them.

“It is a lot of money to dish out to keep them working if people aren’t going to take care of them,” Powell said.

Commissioner Shannon Welch pointed out that he thought Chilton County was one of only two counties (out of 67 counties) in Alabama that used the sirens to indicate a thunderstorm in the area.

Welch said that people in this county are accustomed to hearing the sirens go off signaling a thunderstorm or tornado warning issued for Chilton County when most counties in Alabama merely sound off sirens for a tornado warning.

“I heard meteorologist James Spann speak about how our county is one of the only two counties that sounds off the sirens for a thunderstorm warning,” Welch said. “If we came up with a different system to alert people we would have to keep that in mind.”

Powell said she would research counties in Alabama that decided to go with different weather notifications instead of sirens and let the commissioners know what she had found.

Caton pointed out that the 24 sirens located throughout the county are located several miles apart from one another and servicing the sirens would take several days to reach all of them.

Although no decision was made on Monday night, commissioners Caton, Bobby Agee, Greg Moore, Tim Mims and Welch agreed to let Powell research different options that could be more cost-effective and a stable reliable notification system for the county.

Powell said she would do some research on locating the best option for the county and report back to the commission at a future meeting.