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Officials look into faulty sirens

Two of three signals failed during tornado warning.

Because only one of three sirens blared during a tornado warning the night of May 24, city officials are trying to rectify the problem.

During the height of tornado season, no-blow sirens are not a good thing.

During open forum at the June 1 meeting of the Gothenburg City Council, city administrator Bruce Clymer said malfunctioning sirens has been an ongoing issue.

Clymer told the council the city replaced vintage World War II sirens with direct current-powered ones several years ago.

“The thought was that if the power went out, the sirens could still blow,” he said.

Although batteries are replaced each year, Clymer said problems continue even though the city electrical crew and Platte Valley Communications employees have looked at the sirens.

A specialist from West Point, who works on federal signal sirens, will examine the sirens which are likely to be converted to alternating-current power with battery backup.

With a ballpark price of $4,800 to convert each siren, Clymer said officials are studying how to best convert them.

Unfortunately, he said it will take five to six weeks for conversion parts to arrive.

In the meantime, sirens will be checked every couple of days and batteries recharged if needed.

Clymer noted that the siren by the water tower is the only one that successfully sounded.

One siren is located at the fire station while the third is by the Nebraska State Department of Roads building on south Highway 47.

On a related matter, he said city officials met last Thursday with police, the fire department and dispatch in North Platte about procedures when a tornado warning is issued.

Since the National Weather Service office in Hastings issues severe weather warnings for Dawson County, Clymer said storms are often already through Gothenburg—past the Lincoln-Dawson County line—when warnings are issued.

“We worked out some things that needed to be explained,” he said.

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