Archive for Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Official lobbies for siren

July 20, 2005

Tonganoxie is outgrowing its only outdoor weather-warning siren, but another siren might not be the best way to help residents stay safe during hazardous weather.

City Administrator Mike Yanez said he realized the city has a problem after a tornado sighting last month in Oskaloosa.

The sighting triggered Tonganoxie's downtown siren, although a tornado did not touch ground in Tonganoxie.

"I, myself, barely heard the siren, and I live out in Stone Creek," Yanez said.

Yanez sent a letter to Chuck Magaha, coordinator for Leavenworth County Emergency Management, outlining his concerns and belief that the city needs a second siren.

He has not heard a reply.

"I just started the process that it sure would be nice to have more sirens," Yanez said. "I think it's more of a common sense issue."

But Tonganoxie will just have to take a number and be patient.

Tonganoxie has been targeted for a new siren for several years, but so have other areas of Leavenworth County, including Lansing, Basehor and west of Easton, Magaha said.

Magaha said he would like to put up another siren in Tonganoxie, but he must evaluate the entire county before a decision is made about future sirens.

"I've got a lot of other areas to focus on," he said. "Who comes first, who comes last? I don't know."

This countywide siren-placement project, which has been in the works for five years, hinges on next year's county budget and an area's population. Only two new sirens -- at $20,000 apiece, plus maintenance -- could be added in the next year, he said.

Population is important because a siren is intended to alert people working outside of approaching weather, not necessarily to wake people in the middle of the night who are inside their houses.

"I'd love to have a siren on every street corner, but that's just not practical," he said.

Rather, Magaha urges residents to purchase weather-alert radios, which provide weather information inside people's homes.

Magaha said he was unsure when a decision would be made about where new sirens will be placed.

But if the county eventually decides to erect a second siren in the Tonganoxie area, it would be near Leavenworth County Road 9, just north of the city.

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