With the busiest of the tornado and storm season ahead, Bourbon County commissioners and attorney Justin Meeks discussed the need for tornado sirens in areas of the county during their meeting Tuesday.
Emergency Director Will Wallis informed the commission that the city of Fort Scott has nine sirens while other areas such as Bronson has two, Uniontown has two, and others such as Fulton and Mapleton have one in their areas. Other areas such as Redfield, Hiattville and likely Garland do not have sirens, as well as Lake Fort Scott.
“We live in a very volatile area when it comes to storms,” Meeks said.
After the death of John Scott in May of 2015, a memorial fund was set up in his honor to raise funding to purchase a tornado siren for the Lake Fort Scott area. About two-thirds of the needed $17,000 has been raised, and residents of the area asked if the county could provide the remaining approximate $5,000.
Because Lake Fort Scott and other areas such as Hiattville and Garland are unincorporated, they are unable to seek grants to pay for the sirens, such as other areas like Bronson, who recently paid for sirens with grants.
Commission Chairman Barbara Albright said the county has an opportunity to assist a community that has a safety issue, but Meeks pointed out that, by doing so, the county would be setting a precedent they would need to follow consistently in future years when requests come in.
Meeks said they could create a budget line item annually that could be used to help other communities in a similar way in future years, focusing on safety issues such as sirens as opposed to other projects that fit in the current, parks and recreation item.
“I have some mixed feelings about that,” commissioner Harold Coleman said, saying he does not like the idea that the rest of the county is helping pay for a tornado siren for one area.
With such a tight budget already, the commissioners decided not to commit to an action at the moment that would require a budget item of about $5,000 each year.
“Once you start down that road you have to be consistent,” Meeks said.