Thanks to a Response and Recovery grant program through FEMA and GEMA, Upson County was able to install six additional weather sirens throughout the county in hopes of giving better coverage to warn citizens of inclement weather. Upson County EMA Director Martha Anne McCarty told the county commissioners at their meeting last week, that the EMA is in the process of wrapping the project up and of the $46,387.24 that the county had to pay upfront, $39,429.15 is reimbursable from the state. She also noted the EMA would receive a donation check for $5,425.58 for some of the equipment used, which brings the total for what the county spent on the project down to $1,532.15. Two refurbished sirens were put up in The Rock and the City of Yatesville and four new sirens were installed in the Atwater, Ben Hill, Crest and Hannah’s Mill communities. One siren was also relocated to the Public Works on Highway 74.
“That’s a pretty good bargain,” stated McCarty who mentioned there were plans to put up two other sirens, but they were dropped due to time constraints on the program.
At the beginning of the project, there were 15 sirens in Upson County, with nine of those being located in the City of Thomaston. One reason McCarty had given when applying for the project was to expand the siren network to cover more of the unincorporated areas of the county, due to more people moving into the rural areas in recent years.
Also during the meeting, McCarty told the board about the county’s opportunity to gain hazard mitigation funds from being declared one of 45 counties affected in the ice storm this past winter. She stated the request for those funds have to be turned in no later than August 1 and there will be anywhere from $6-$12 million available to the 45 counties. The funding would be given out on a 75-10-15 split, which means the counties portion would be 15 percent, or 15 cents on the dollar.
One of the proposed uses for the funding would be to replace the two sirens not done in the previous project and add four more in other communities such as the Logtown area. This would bring the total number of sirens up to 27 and thus complete the siren network for Upson County. McCarty also told the commissioners she has looked into a siren monitoring system which would allow the EMA to monitor all the sirens electronically and eliminating the need to rely on individuals to say if they heard the siren test or not each month.
Another use of the funding would be to purchase generators for the county, City of Thomaston and City of Yatesville, with each entity paying their own 15 percent for the equipment. McCarty stated the county had discussed getting a generator for the Civic Center, the EMA building and a couple for the water department to have for the wells on the western side of the county so that water could still be pumped into the tanks in the event of a power outage. She continued, noting the City of Thomaston would like to purchase a couple to have for their sewage lift stations which are north of town and supplied by Georgia Power and the City of Yatesville would like one for their Fire Department and one for the well house system.
“This is a way for us to get a $100,000 generator for 15 cents on the dollar,” McCarty stated. “If we can make these kinds of improvements for 15 cents on the dollar, I think it is a good way to go.”
Chairman Rusty Blackston thanked McCarty for all of her hard work on this project and noted that it is too good of a deal for the county to not take advantage. The board gave her permission to move forward on requesting the funding.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1