Marshall Co. commissioners are discussing the future of the county’s outdoor warning sirens

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Like other Alabama counties, Marshall County commissioners are discussing the future of the county's outdoor warning sirens. The Marshall County Emergency Management Agency identified ten units that the manufacturer stopped producing parts for, and that led to a broader, ongoing discussion.

Marshall County EMA officials are working to determine the life expectancy of the county's outdoor  warning sirens. The county has 59 sirens.  All of the county's sirens are working, but there's a problem. Ten of the county's sirens were installed in the 90s. The manufacturer has stopped producing parts for those particular sirens, and if they break, the price for repairs is about $75,000 for all ten. The EMA has not yet released the locations of those sirens.

The situation prompted Marshall County commissioners into a broader discussion of the future of the county's sirens. "I think right now is a good time to start a discussion on what we're going to do," said  Commission Chairman James Hutcheson. He adds the high cost of maintenance compared to the county's available revenue is a factor in the conversation.

Hutcheson says the Commission is discussing some options. One option would be to remove the sirens altogether. Or, the Commission could commit to making the repairs when needed. Further, the Commission could identify and get rid of sirens in some areas where they're not needed.

Hutcheson says each siren location will be key in the discussion. "In certain locations they're definitely needed, but there may be certain locations where we could eliminate some units," he added.

Boating and swimming are popular in Marshall County. Hutcheson says those lake areas, especially with limited cell service, would need sirens.

Hutcheson says many other factors are part of this discussion, which is still in the early stages. "This decision won't be made overnight, and I'm sure the commission would like to have public input."

EMA officials will give a full list of the county's siren data to the commissioners for their discussion. The commission has not yet looked into the cost of removing the sirens.