Two sirens make little noise in an emergency

COLUMBIANA – When alarm sirens went off during the downburst in July not everyone could hear them, according to City Councilman Bryan Blakeman.

He expressed the concerns to council this past week and said he heard from several residents asking why the sirens could not be heard.

“There were comments all over the city’s Facebook page that people couldn’t hear the siren. I spoke with people since then, and they said they couldn’t,” he said.

Specifically, people living on the south side of town and near the public library on North Middle Street had difficulty hearing, he added.

Police Chief Tim Gladis said the siren near City Hall and the one near Firestone Park are checked on a daily basis. They are the only two in Columbiana.

He recalled that about three years ago he tried getting more sirens from the county after funding was made available for new ones.

He had requested the county provide the city with the sirens they were replacing with the ones purchased with the funding, but those sirens were given to other areas without any sirens at all, he said.

“I had asked for five but we didn’t get any. I think the EMA (Emergency Management Agency) looks at that periodically to get funding,” he told Blakeman.

He went on to say it is his opinion people should avoid relying on the sirens which can sometimes be confusing and opt for alerts available on their personal cell phones instead.

“With the geography in the city and the expansion we have we are just not adequately covered anymore by the siren,” he said. “The way the system works now, if a storm hits on the other side of the county there is no way to geographically isolate it. The skies are blue and its fine here but they are getting pounded somewhere else and people call here wondering what is going on with the sirens.”

Emergency alerts are available through Smartphone applications, and people with other types of phones can get them through Nixle, which can be accessed through the county EMA website.

Other phone applications are available through the Weather Channel and Accuweather websites, he said.

Blakeman encouraged council to keep an eye out for grant funding for additional sirens in the meantime. No action was taken.

In other business, council approved:

– A request from Elaine Kloss for a Columbiana Music Booster Tag Day on Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.

– A request from Paul Rance for the Columbiana Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade. Rance said several people have requested a night parade and pending the parade committee’s approval, it would be held the evening of Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. instead of during the day on Nov. 23. Council approved the parade being held on either day, and Rance said it would be held on one day or the other, not both days.

– Second readings were given to resolutions accepting the amounts and rates determined by the budget commission and authorizing the necessary tax levies. The annual resolutions are not new levies.

– Emergency resolutions authorizing City Manager Lance Willard to enter into a contract with Myers Equipment Corp. of Canfield for the purchase of an Osage Type II van ambulance for the public safety vehicle service department (cost is $70,166), adopting amendments to the rules of the park, recreation and cemetery board, and appropriating $200,000 from the sewer fund into the fire levy fund for the purchase of the new fire truck.

Blakeman was the lone dissenter for the sewer fund appropriation.