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Sound the alarm: Grant money awarded for Stephensburg weather siren

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By Sarah Bennett

The Stephensburg Fire Department recently received awarded grant money to place a weather siren on Leitchfield Road between the fire department and old school building.

“It’s just something we’ve needed for a long time,” said David Paynter, Stephensburg fire chief.

The department applied for the mitigation grant about 18 months ago, the chief said. The siren, which will serve the entire Stephensburg population, must be installed no later than Dec. 30, said Leslie Mahoney, state hazard mitigation officer.

Mahoney and other officials from the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management met Thursday with fire department representatives to discuss the project, which will cost $20,971.

The federal government will put up $15,728 of that, and the state will pay $2,516.52, according to KYEM. The remaining amount will be paid using local money.

At this time, there are 29 weather sirens in Hardin County, according to numbers obtained from Hardin County Emergency Management.

More than half of those are located in Elizabethtown or Radcliff, and the closest siren to Stephensburg is in White Mills, which Paynter said is about seven miles from the fire department.

The department was concerned Stephensburg residents were unable to hear the siren in White Mills, said Doug Finlay, deputy director of Hardin County Emergency Management.

The goal when placing storm sirens is to pick specific locations that can reach a high number of residents, Finlay said.

Paynter said the main concern was for the two schools in Stephensburg, which are populated by an estimated 1,600 students and faculty throughout the week during the school year.

Not including the schools, Stephensburg has a population of about 4,000 people, he said.

The fire chief called the siren a “fail safe system” and said he hopes Stephensburg residents will feel more secure once the siren is erected. Depending on the weather, Paynter said he would like to see it up by the end of February.

The Stephensburg siren project was “a good collaboration,” Finlay said, and included efforts from local, state and the federal government.

To place and maintain a weather siren is costly, he said, but in efforts to keep residents safe, the county will try to establish more.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.