Crothersville town council makes progress on tornado siren


CROTHERSVILLE — In early April, Crothersville was at the center of a large tornado outbreak in southern Indiana without a working tornado siren.

Three months later, the town has taken action to proceed with a local company, S & L Heating, Cooling and Electric in Austin, for the installation of a new siren.

“We need to act on this,” Councilman Chad Wilson said during a recent town council meeting.

Sirens in Crothersville, Brownstown, Freetown and Medora are tested at noon on the first Friday of each month by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with the help of police officers. Seymour Police Department operates a separate test for the city’s seven tornado sirens.

A month before April’s tornado outbreak, the Crothersville siren failed the test.

No one in Crothersville was injured the night of the storm and the town council met that same night with the discussion of the siren’s failure most paramount.

Council Vice President Jason Hillenburg said the breaker in the control box broke and shorted out. The town said S & L made a temporary repair to the siren until it could be replaced.

“Luckily we have something working right now, but we need to get something going,” Councilwoman Terry Richey said.

According to Jackson County Sheriff’s Department dispatch records, Crothersville police reported the siren failed tests in January and February. Dispatchers did not get a report in March for the regular monthly test or the extra statewide tornado drill.

When the siren malfunctioned during the monthly testing, the town received a quote of $52,593.93 from ERS Wireless that would have included a five-year maintenance contract and onsite services.

Considering the big expense, Councilman Jamy Greathouse suggested the council research potential funding opportunities from the county’s emergency management agency or the 911 board at the time. The discussion of a tornado siren was then tabled.

During July 2 town meeting, two more quotes were presented — one from Federal Signal, a communication equipment manufacturing company based in Downers Grove, Illinois, for $32,567, and the other from S & L for an estimated cost around $30,000.

“I one hundred percent support doing things with local companies, but with the public attention this has I think going with someone who does this professionally for a couple extra grand may be a better way to go,” Greathouse said. “It’s nothing personal.”

Greathouse added the siren would still have to be integrated into the dispatch system center at Brownstown, so dispatchers have the ability to set off the alarm there, adding additional expenses.

A motion was made to proceed with the installation of a tornado siren by S & L and was passed 3-1 with Greathouse voting no and Hillenburg abstaining. A resolution was then passed unanimously to purchase the tornado siren using funding from the county economic income development tax account.

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