Funding for outdoor emergency siren upgrade to be proposed in Ward County

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 8:08 PM CST
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MINOT, N.D (KMOT) - Ward County’s 911 coordinator said the state of North Dakota urged the legislature in 2019 to upgrade outdoor emergency sirens by 2025.

Ward county’s goal is to have this done by the end of year, but it comes at a cost.

When a natural or man-made disaster approaches a town, residents need warning, even if it’s a loud and resounding horn.

Ryan Summers, the 911 coordinator for Ward County, said those sirens with a dated VHF system are going to be turned off at some point.

“Now technology and software has upgraded, it’s becoming better and that’s why we’re transitioning statewide is to the 800-megahertz system. It’s more reliable and it gives better coverage,” said Summers.

The upgrade will cost around $4,000 per siren, a price some cities around Minot can’t afford. Ward County has about 30 sirens.

Surrey City Auditor Anita Trana said they found out about the upgrade in December. She said the city has funding from the American rescue plan and they’re ready to upgrade as soon as the transition begins.

“Lucky enough or fortunate enough to have had our registrations complete and all of our paperwork in for the federal piece to have just worked out in a way that this is going to qualify for that,” said Trana.

Some communities are looking for ways to fund the transition. Summers said if all sirens are not upgraded, the joint budget between Ward County will end up paying for both the old and new systems to keep them operating.

The old system alone is $70,000 a year.

“Which isn’t fiscally responsible for the taxpayers of Ward County,” said Summers.

Summers is also part of the 911 committee and will present the Ward County Commission meeting with a proposal to use an interest-free loan from Ward County to fund the project, it they want they want that assistance.

“That’s the most important part is ensuring that the services are provided and that in case of emergencies or a case of messages that need to be relayed, that everything is covered,” said Trana.

Summers said the 911 committee’s proposal is a just a financial recommendation. If Ward County approves it, they’ll take it to the Minot City Council.

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