Warning system coming to county parks

Chad Frey
Emergency alarm sirens could be added to two Harvey County parks if a FEMA grant is received.

If a grant is awarded from FEMA emergency response funds, there could be a new amenity added to two Harvey County parks — emergency alarm sirens.

An outdoor warning siren at East Park will cost about $39,500, while at West Park it will cost $36,000. If the grant application is approved, the grant would cover 75% of the project, leaving 25% on Harvey County. The county would be on the hook for about $18,875.

“There is about a one-mile radius you can hear this. They will cover the camping areas and some private residences in the area,” said Kass Miller, director of the parks department.

The first two warning sirens the county would own, the digital system can make use of prerecorded messages in addition to sounding a siren.

Miller said there are hundreds of prerecorded messages that can be used.

Parks staff and county emergency management have added a microphone package that can be accessed by county staff to create a new message or make emergency announcements.

“These can also be accessed remotely,” Miller said. “That would eliminate any delay.”

The warning sirens can be triggered by dispatch if needed.

“I like this. If we get a tornado at 2 a.m. in the morning, we have to get a ranger up and moving to the park,” said Commissioner Chip Westfall. “We need them for monitoring and the Sheriff’s Department is occupied. ... This saves a lot of time.”

Response is about 25 minutes from Ranger homes to parks.

In East Park the system will be located southwest of Volunteer Hall near Camper’s Row, while at West Park it will either be near the stone buildings or in a field near a baseball diamond.