Tuesday, March 21, 2017

EDITORIAL >> NLR donates sirens to Ward

Ward residents can feel safer this spring thanks to the generosity of North Little Rock officials. They are donating four tornado sirens to Ward, where a couple of residents told the city council last week they can make the sirens work almost like new.

Dustin Johnson, who worked in public safety and information technology and oversaw Conway’s 22 sirens and storm-notification system, said he could get the donated siren heads operating manually at no cost.

The city is getting estimates on the costs to make them automated, which will set them off by radio instead of flipping a switch.

New poles to install the donated sirens will be around $1,000 a piece, plus the cost of wiring.

Ward’s three sirens are being repaired. Two are inoperable, and another wails but does not rotate to broadcast the sound.

Fire Chief Randy Staley said during severe weather the tornado sirens are sounded when the National Weather Service puts Ward in a warned polygon on the radar screen.

How important are tornado sirens? Resident Kyle Brooks said Lubbock, Texas (249,000 population), did not have working sirens in 2015. According to Brooks, the Lubbock mayor was voted out of office and replaced by a mayor who was elected with a platform of adding sirens.

Mayor Art Brooke thanked Brooks and Johnson for their research and work with the city on the tornado sirens. We also thank them and the good folks in North Little Rock for their generosity.