Board discuss sirens, generators and bridges

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Some of the other matters covered at Monday’s Pearl River County Board of Supervisors meeting entailed problems with generators at county shelters, issues faced with the emergency sirens at the schools and the subsequent need to develop a smartphone application to alert residents of impending emergency situations.
Emergency Operations Director Danny Manley said he was alerted over the weekend to an issue with the generator at the Pearl River County School District Shelter. Apparently a transformer failure caused the generator to kick on and run for about 15 hours. Staff at the school district did not turn the generator off because they assumed it was timed to kick on automatically. Manley was notified of the problem the next day, and shut the generator down, however by that time the generator had burned fuel for no reason. That generator uses about 60 gallons of fuel per hour when on a maximum load, he said.
Manley suggested providing training to the staff where the shelters are located to avoid a future problem.
Emergency sirens installed throughout the county at several schools in 2008 are now experiencing issues. Manley said each time a test is conducted to determine which of the sirens work, at least one is found to be broken. Due to the limited coverage area of the sirens, which entails people being outside and near a school, combined with the inability to share details about the emergency, Manley suggested the county consider developing a smartphone application to take the place of the sirens.
Manley said he would use the app to disseminate notifications he receives from several agencies about all kinds of emergency situations, including an accident on the interstate to direct traffic away from the area, a storm with high winds or even notifications from the cities and utility authority.
If the board moves forward with his idea, then the sirens could be turned over to the school districts for their own use, if they so choose.
Manley estimates the app would cost about $5,000 per year, but that cost could be split between the cities and utility authority if they want to participate. The matter was just for consideration, so a motion was not made.
In another matter, County Engineer Les Dungan spoke to the board about applying for grant funding to conduct regular inspections on some of the county’s aging bridges. Dungan said there are 165 county maintained bridges, and the funding would help pay for the inspection of about half. Bridges posted with a low weight are inspected every year, while those without a limit are inspected biannually. After the motion to apply for the grant funding was approved, Dungan said there are plans to replace bridges on Silver Run Road, George Ford Road and Gumpond Beall Road.
Inspection work to bring the county courthouse up to ADA compliance while maintaining the historical significance will require more funding. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the board approved a motion to increase the flat fee charged by the architect inspecting the historic building to ensure work to improve the facility not only meets ADA standards, but also maintains the historical aspect of the building as required by the Department of History and Archives. With the board’s approval, the fee has now been raised from $74,000 to $100,000. Once the architect develops drawings for the work, they will be sent to those agencies for approval.
The next board of supervisors meeting will be Wednesday July 22, at 9 a.m. in the old county courthouse.

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