County weather sirens being installed
by Wes Mayer
A new weather warning siren was installed on a 60-foot-tall pole Tuesday in Coweta County's Whitlock Recreation Park off Highway 34 East - the first of 16 sirens to be erected throughout the county.
'We are hoping to have everything up and running by Thanksgiving,' said Jay Jones, director of Coweta County Emergency Management. 'Weather permitting, two of these sirens could be installed each day.'
The weather sirens will all be under the same system, operated from the Coweta County 911 Center in Creekside Industrial Park at 195 International Park. The secondary operating center will be located in the Coweta County Justice Center.
The sirens are designed to issue tornado warnings to people outdoors, Jones said, and in the case of an emergency, they will sound both a siren and a recorded voice message twice urging those to seek shelter. The sirens can be heard from about a mile to 1.25 miles away, Jones said, and are being installed next to schools, parks or other locations in the county where a large amount of people may be outside.
Once the system is up and running, all the sirens will broadcast tests on the first Wednesday of every month, Jones said, and they will only sound once with a message making clear it is a test.
In addition to Whitlock Park, the sirens will be installed at the Grantville ballpark and library on 23 Colley St., the Andrew Bailey ballpark on 1011 Andrew Bailey Road, the Sargent ballpark on 50 Sargent Ball St., the Central ballpark on 161 Ebenezer Church Road, the Hunter Complex on 2970 Hwy 16 East, the Coweta County Community Center on 1792 Welcome Road, the Coweta County Fairgrounds on 275 Pine Road, the Clay-Wood Community Center on 135 Heery Road, the county Fire Department Station 6 on 46 Greentop Road. (The Heritage School), Fire Department Station 7 on 3370 Fischer Road (Northgate High School), East Coweta High School on 400 Hwy 154, the Senoia Police Department on 505 Howard Road, the Senoia park on 408 Seavy St., the Senoia water treatment plant on 740 Rockaway Road and the Haralson City Hall and park on 171 Magnolia St.
The eight sirens in the city of Newnan will also be absorbed into the county's warning system, Jones said. The system is set up so that in the case of an emergency only the sirens in the endangered areas of the county will sound, not all 24 sirens.
The sirens are manufactured by Whelen engineering, a company that also specializes in sirens for emergency personnel vehicles, Jones said. The sirens are being installed by McCord Communications, a company based out of Alabama that installs sirens throughout the Unites States, Europe and Japan. The funding for these sirens, more than $400,000, is being provided through the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax.
Each siren takes around three to four hours to set up, Jones said. McCord has to drill a hole, inspect and set up a foundation, then mount and erect the poles. The poles, Jones said, are 60 feet long, and 10 of those feet are put into the ground. The actual siren, which is another 10 feet tall, is then installed on top.
'Hopefully, we will never have to sound these sirens,' Jones said. 'But with the tornadoes we've experienced in the past, there is a good chance we will see more in Coweta.'
Because the sirens will primarily be heard by people outdoors, Jones urges every homeowner to invest in a weather radio or to download a weather radio application to their smartphones. Jones also said residents can look on Coweta County's Facebook page or follow his twitter account@CowetaEMA for regular and emergency weather updates.