By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times
DODGE CITY —
With not a cloud in the sky, mandatory upgrades to all 42 of the county’s weather sirens officially got under way Monday.
The process began mid-morning in Dodge City, and by lunch, work on the first siren on the list was complete. The upgrades come on the heels of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new narrowbanding requirements, which took effect Jan. 1. The requirement mandates emergency radio equipment must operate at a narrower frequency.
“There’s no easy way to do it,” Assistant Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Kelly Allen said. “But we’re doing what we think we need to do.”
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $91,330, and is being paid through federal and local grant money. The Cullman County Commission authorized the signing of a hazardous mitigation grant for the project in December, which totaled $69,498 in federal funds. The remaining matching funds were paid for through a grant in the amount of $22,832 from the Cullman County Community Development Commission.
Though there is no imminent threat for severe weather in the forecast, Allen and EMA Director Phyllis Little are still urging residents to be weather aware, as the outdoor warning system won’t be operational until all upgrades are complete.
“Pay close attention to the weather,” Allen said. “We encourage everyone to make sure that you have an alternate means of severe weather notifications, such as a NOAA weather radio to receive weather alerts.”
As of late Thursday afternoon 15 sirens had been upgraded. The list includes Holly Pond, Good Hope Mize Road, Good Hope Ball Park, Berlin Station One, Smith Lake Park, Arkadelphia, Dodge City Town Hall, Dodge City Cord 216, Loretto Fire Department, Logan Fire Department, Bethsaida Station One, Colony, Cold Springs, Crane Hill, Walter Fire Department.
Allen anticipates the remaining upgrades to be complete within the next two weeks. Progress updates can be found on the Cullman County EMA’s Facebook page.
Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 135, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org