Archive for Monday, May 12, 2008

County seeking public comment on when to sound outdoor warning sirens

May 12, 2008

Douglas County leaders are trying to strike a delicate balance when it comes to sounding outdoor tornado warning sirens.

"I don't want it to go off every time a cloud comes out of the southwest," county Commissioner Bob Johnson said during Monday's commission meeting.

"Even now there are people who pay no attention to the sirens whether they hear them or not," he said.

Perhaps the sirens should be about more than tornadoes, Commissioner Charles Jones said. He noted that the last two damaging wind storms to hit the area involved mostly straight-line winds. He said he wonders if enough is being done to warn people.

"It just seems to me that the warnings ought not be just about tornadoes. It should be about people and risk and where to go beyond that," Jones said.

Commissioners want to hear what the public thinks about the use of tornado sirens. They scheduled a public hearing on the issue for their May 21 meeting. The meeting starts at 6:35 p.m. on the second floor of the courthouse, 1100 Mass.

Most likely commissioners will hear mixed sentiments from the public. That's what Commissioner Jere McElhaney said he has heard from people since the siren issue came up on May 2. During the early morning hours that day storms blew through the county causing damage. The county didn't sound the sirens even though the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. The county's policy is not to sound the sirens unless there is a local determination that one exists.

Emergency Management Director Teri Smith said she, too, had received mixed comments by phone and e-mail about the policy since the storm. But during last Thursday's emergency management committee meeting only two local residents showed up for a discussion despite advance publicity about the meeting.

Among other business, commissioners on Monday approved a preliminary plat and conditional use permit for a new Willow Springs Township Fire Station No. 2. The station will be built at the intersection of North 650 and East 1100 roads, southwest of Pleasant Grove.

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