All weather warning sirens now operational
by Jennifer Cohron
May 06, 2014 | 906 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In spite of a technical glitch that affected the county’s severe weather warning system last week, all 45 outdoor warning sirens in the area are now operational.

The final repair was made Monday morning shortly after the Walker County Commission adjourned its meeting.

Walker County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Regina Myers said some residents reported that the sirens in their area were not activated during last Monday’s storms.

“When we set the sirens off, we use the sheriff’s department repeater. If anyone keys up while we’re trying to set the sirens off, it can kill the code. Some of them may work. Some of them may not. That’s the issue we ran into,” Myers said.

In the future, sheriff’s department employees will be asked to halt radio traffic while the sirens are being activated.

Myers was asked about the possibility of no longer using the repeater for the sirens.

“The cost that I was given was around $10,000 to be able to get off their system. It wouldn’t be a dedicated channel, so we would still run that risk of someone keying up on it, but it would be less likely,” she said.

A software program is available that would notify the EMA of which signals were not activated, but that program would also require a significant financial investment, according to Myers.

Myers added that Bobby Jackson, owner of Jackson Communication Service, has tested the sirens that did not sound last week and has confirmed that they are working.

A relay problem for one of the sirens in District 4 was also addressed promptly.

“It would start up and then it would kill out. They spent the majority of that day working on it and got it fixed,” Myers said.

County officials urged residents to not rely solely on outdoor warning sirens during severe weather.

Representatives of Walker County EMA will be at the Jasper Fire Department on Saturday to program weather radios for local residents.

In other action from the meeting:

•A bid package for the county’s animal shelter project will be going out to qualified contractors this week.

County engineer Mike Short told Walker County Commissioners Monday that contractors will have approximately two weeks to return the bids.

A bid could be awarded at the May 19 meeting.