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July 13, 2013

Tornado siren work completed

CULLMAN — The Cullman County Emergency Management Agency brought all but one of the county’s 42 weather sirens back into service Wednesday after upgrading them to meet new Federal Communications Commission requirements.

Over the past two and half weeks, the EMA has been changing  out equipment at the sirens to comply with the FCC’s new narrowbanding requirements, which took effect Jan. 1. The requirement mandates emergency radio equipment must operate at a narrower frequency.

The lone siren not online yet is in Garden City near U.S. 31 and Jochum Road, but it will be upgraded as soon as the area around the site dries out from last week’s heavy rainfall, said Assistant EMA Director Kelly Allen.

“If we had a tornado warning today, all of the sirens, except the one in Garden City, would be activated across the county,” Allen said. “I can’t stress enough though that sirens do not need to be people’s sole source of notification during bad weather. They need to watch the weather and use NOAA weather radios.”

The total cost to upgrade the sirens 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.

The EMA will test the sirens on the first Wednesday of each month.

Weather sirens are in the following areas: (Cullman) U.S. 31 near Agriculture Center, Saint Joseph Street, West Cullman, Industrial Park, East Side Park and U.S. 31 South near Olive Street; (Hanceville)Commercial Street, U.S. 31 near Hamby Park and Wallace State Community College; (Garden City) First Street,10th Street and U.S. 31 near Jochum Road; Holly Pond, Good Hope (2), Berlin stations 1 and 2, Smith Lake Park, Arkadelphia, Dodge City (2), Loretto Fire Department, Logan Fire Department1and 2, Bethsaida Station 1 and 3, Colony, Cold Springs, Crane Hill, Walter Fire Department, Sardis Fire Department, Jones Chapel, Gold Ridge Fire Department, Providence Fire Department, Vinemont Fire Department, West Point Fire Station 2, West Point First Baptist Church, Battleground Station 1, Joppa, Baileyton and Fairview.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.

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