Dexter Township residents will be able to move about outside in the township and hear electronic outdoor warning sirens, which will alert them to dangerous weather and other situations, following the approval of about $371,000 to fund 16 electronic emergency warning sirens.
Currently, the township, which covers 36 square miles, has just one outdoor warning siren in the Portage Lake area. In other words, most of the township’s about 6,500 residents can’t hear the siren – even if they’re outside in their yards.
The new warning sirens also have a programming capability, which can be used for voice messages, so the one near Portage Lake will be replaced as well.
“The voice activation feature of these state-of-the-art sirens will be a very important and useful feature in an area with a lot of state and Metropark parkland used by outdoor recreators,” said Dexter Township Supervisor Pat Kelly.
Dexter Area Fire Department Chief Loren Yates said, “The warning sirens are a great idea and I wish more communities would be that proactive. Even though they’re not the answer to everything, they will help.”
So, by the end of the year, the sirens will be installed and cover the entire township, and they will be heard in neighboring Lyndon Township to the west, Putnam Township to the north, Lima Township to south and Webster Township to the east, Kelly said.
Here’s a map of where they’ll be placed. 2012-06-25 v2 PSAC Substation Report Draft 15
On July 17, the Township Board approved the funding, 6-1, with Board Member Carl Lesser voting against the resolution. He stated that the township had other priorities, such as roads, that needed funding.
By way of background, on March 15, Dexter Township and the Village of Dexter was struck by an EF-3 tornado, which resulted in serious damage to homes and trees in the tornado’s path. Properties and trees along Dexter-Pinckney Road and in the Carriage Hills subdivision were some of the hardest hit areas in the township.
On March 17, the Sunday after the tornado struck, the Township Board held a special meeting and allocated $200,000 toward clean-up efforts. To date, about $42,000 has been spent, leaving about $158,000, which can be used for the new sirens.
The township has an adequate fund balance that can make up the additional funds and in addition, the township plans to seek donations for purchase. In fact, the Township Board accepted its first donation toward the project on July 17 – a $1,000 check from Township Clerk Harley Rider and his wife, Vita Rider.
The 11-member Dexter Township Public Safety Advisory Committee recommended to the township board in a June report that for the safety of residents throughout the township as well as in nearby recreation areas that a comprehensive electronic emergency warning system be installed.
“The tornado illustrated a clear need for warning sirens and our Public Safety Advisory Committee rolled up their sleeves and went to work on finding the best, most cost effective way to provide the sirens,” Kelly said. “The PSAC is to be commended for their diligent and conscientious efforts to protect the citizens of Dexter Township.”
It’s important to note that emergency warning sirens are meant to warn people who are outside and many times they cannot be heard inside their homes. These sirens are also equipped with voice activation that can be programmed for specific message.
Clerk Harley Rider offered the resolution and it was seconded by Board Member Steve Feinman.