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March 22, 2013

EMA moving ahead with weather siren upgrades

CULLMAN — The Cullman County Emergency Management Agency can now move forward with $91,330 worth of mandatory upgrades to all 42 of the county’s weather sirens.

Since the Cullman County Commission authorized the signing of a hazard  mitigation grant for the project in December, which totaled $68,498 in federal funds, the project has been sitting idol due to lack of money to help pay for the remaining matching funds. However, a recent grant in the amount of $22,832 from the Cullman County Community Development Commission is taking care of that.

“This will cover our matching funds to upgrade all of our sirens,” Cullman EMA direct Phyllis Little said. “None of the municipalities will have to be out for any of that. We appreciate the committee for recognizing the good it can do for the community.”

The upgrades come on the heels of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) new narrowbanding requirements, which took effect Jan. 1. The requirement mandates emergency radio equipment must operate at a narrower frequency.

Little said she anticipates the bid to be awarded around the first of April, with work beginning shortly after. She added the switch over would likely take place toward the end of summer.

“We’re not going to do half and take a chance if there is bad weather,” she said. “It’s working fine now, so we’re going to wait until we have a good window of opportunity and then have them all switched over at once.”

In addition to EMA, Cold Springs Volunteer Fire Department also received a grant from the CCCDC in the amount of $7,455.42 to buy radios for the department so that they too could make the switch to digital.

With the primary severe weather season underway, the City of Hanceville was awarded a $15,000 grant to assist in putting in sidewalks and hooking up the sewer at their community storm shelters.

The Cullman County Soil and Water Conservation received $6,000 to help fund the FAWN program this spring for all sixth grade students in the county.

The next CCCDC meeting will be held at 6 p.m. April 4 at the Baileyton Senior Center.

* Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com.

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