Hinds supes reject using county cash for sirens’ repair

At least a dozen early warning sirens still aren’t working in Jackson and Hinds County, but Hinds supervisors hesitated Monday to pay for the repairs with county money.

Emergency Operations Director Larry Fisher told supervisors he could come up with $464,000 to replace up to 15 sirens.

Supervisors decided not to take him up on the offer, opting to wait for word on a federal grant application submitted two weeks ago. The county is asking for $1.6 million in Homeland Security grants to replace 62 sirens in Jackson and the county.

“At least we have a plan now,” District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham said.

Some of the sirens date to 1952.

Fisher said Monday that as many as 16 sirens are broken. Several sirens didn’t work when tornadoes swept through the area April 4.

Second District Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, recently gave supervisors the impression the county had a good chance of getting the grants. Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Last year, Fisher requested $869,880 from the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security for 40 sirens. That request was denied. In an e-mail to Fisher, Jay Ledbetter, Mississippi’s director of homeland security, said there is a “move away from siren-based warning and notification systems.”

For the past four years, Fisher has requested $150,000 in his budget for sirens. The county has denied each request. Fisher said he has to scrape up money for repairs.

District 2 Supervisor Doug Anderson said he wants to be sure all the sirens get attention.

“I think that the siren in my district is as important as the sirens in other districts,” he said.

Clarion Ledger
5/6/8