The Cherokee County Commission has approved expanding its Code Red Emergency Notification Service.

Currently, the commission is paying $10,000 per year for this service which alerts participating residents, via phone and other devices in the event of an emergency situation. Upon the recommendation of Shawn Rogers, director, Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency, the commission approved adding an additional supplement of $1,131.22 for Code Red.

“In the years past we have been paying $10,000 annually toward Code Red,” explained Rogers. “And that is for weather warnings only.”

Just last month, Rogers said, Cherokee County, which is allowed 1,000 minutes per year, exceeded its minutes because of a tornado watch which was issued. That 1,000 minutes per year includes all weather and other emergency warning situations.

“I got to looking at this because we’ve got five tornado sirens down in the county and this is probably the best alternative we’ve got in place right now to make calls to cell phones, home phones or what not,” said Rogers. “Talking with Code Red, we can upgrade our plan with them and it would move it from $10,000 a year to $12,244 a year. And that gives us 50,000 minutes to be able to generate alerts.”

“Plus we have access to their data base from which they pull residents information from our county, from the public records, stuff these companies seek this information from and they will actually generate a phone call themselves saying ‘hey please sign up for this’ without us having to do anything,” said Rogers.

“We have already paid the $10,000 this year,” said Rogers. “They will credit that toward the new plan and prorate that since we are already in May. So all that would have to be paid now is $1,131.22 and that would give us our 50,000 minutes or access to their data base which is far beyond anything we can do here.”

For example, Rogers said, “If we had a large Hazmat spill somewhere and we had to evacuate a certain area, we can get on there and draw that on line and it would generate phone calls just to that area. If a tornado warning is for Sand Rock or Tucker’s Chapel, we can go on there and draw that polygon out and it would just generate calls for that area, if we have a tornado watch.”

Some 5,764 residents out of a population of 25,720 in Cherokee County subscribe to Code Red, Rogers said.

“After your data is entered we will have access to 11,101 which is more contact numbers than what we currently have,” said Rogers.

From the results of the latest weather warning siren test, the news wasn’t good for five of 16 of the county’s sirens, Rogers said.

The sirens at Rock Run, John’s Crossroads, Centre City Hall, Cherokee County High School and Tucker’s Chapel did not go off, Rogers said.

For at least one of the sirens, the problem was in the motor. Rogers said he was told it would cost approximately $6,000 to replace the motor and that he is currently awaiting word from the company that manufactured the sirens. This type of motor has not been manufactured since 1998.

As for the others, they are not sure at this point why they did not sound, Rogers said.

“Right now I think this (Code Red) is our alternative to getting those alerts out to those areas not hearing those,” said Rogers. “Those sirens are not designed to be heard inside your house. Those are outdoor warnings.”

The commission approved the additional $1,131.22 to upgrade the Code Red System in Cherokee County and this will come out of the general fund and amending the current Code Red contract.

Cherokee County Administrator Tim Burgess, reporting for Cherokee Animal Shelter Manager and Animal Control Officer Dustin Dutton, gave an update on the new Cherokee County Animal Shelter which is now open and operating.

“I think we have had seven adoptions in six days,” said Dutton. “It is going pretty well right now. Of course we have a little ways to go and this is new for all of us. If you haven’t been yet, I would encourage you got go by there. I am very encouraged by it. I think we’ve done an excellent job getting it going.”

“I think it is going to be a good thing for the county and I just appreciate what all of you have done to help us get to this particular point,” said Dutton.