MONTCALM TOWNSHIP — It’s been longer than two decades since Montcalm Township residents have heard the wailing of a siren warning them of severe weather in the area.
Now township officials have committed to wiring the township with several signals by purchasing the first one.
On Wednesday night, the township board purchased the first siren, a several-hundred pound device to be installed on a pole, for $10,900, ($1,400 of that coming from Montcalm County Central Dispatch). The township was able to get the regularly $20,000-plus siren at less than half the cost because they were refurbished from a company which obtained them through a trade-in from a nuclear plant in Indiana, according to Supervisor Michael Adams. The plant had recently updated all its sirens.
“It’s important to have those sirens in the community,” Adams said. “We’ve got the opportunity to pick up one of these refurbished ones for less than half the cost and we have the money in the budget.
“I dug through the budget today, I updated the budget report and financially we’re in very good shape this year,” he said. “We’ve done really well in almost all areas of the budget and we more than have the money to support this additional purchase this year.”
The siren, which has a two-mile radius, will be installed on the township’s fire department.
“These sirens will be able to be set off by the fire station or by Central Dispatch themselves,” Fire Chief Clif Dickinson said. “When severe weather comes in they can trip the tones and they can set them off in the whole county.”
Township officials agreed this would be the first of potentially a number of sirens to be installed in order to try to reach as many residents as possible.
“I’d like to see us as a board move forward with this siren and consider it as a starter to a bigger system,” Adams said. “And then start looking for grants so we can add more sirens in areas like Gowen or Perch Lake or the heavily populated areas.”
Clerk Carol Rosebrook agreed.
“We want to make sure we try to get a grant to get them in other areas so we can cover a big part of the population,” she said.
The township used to have a siren that sounded in the event of inclement weather, but it went by the wayside when the township moved to its current facility two decades ago.
The siren was left at the township’s previous building, now occupied by Counter Point LLC, and has since been given to a resident. Adams said because of the age of the siren and the length of time it has been without use, it would not be cost efficient to restore it.