BROOKFIELD - Township officials are looking into a telephone message alert system that warns residents of emergencies and events.
Trustee Gary Lees brought the system to the board's attention after hearing that McDonald village was also researching the system.
McDonald Mayor Glenn Holmes said the village is currently looking at a contract with CodeRed, a service of Emergency Communications Network operated from Florida. Holmes said they need to prepare the resident contact list but that council hopes to have the system running within the first six months of 2013.
Lees said he hopes the alerts will help to warn residents of local emergencies quicker than through traditional outlets.
"We've had quite a few waterline breaks," Lees said, "by that time they've already started to use their water."
Lees said with the advantage of technology in the winter months, the township would be able to let residents know when snow has reached a level requiring them to remove their vehicles from the street to make way for snow plows.
According to Lees, Brookfield fire Chief Keith Barrett has contacted the county emergency management to invite them to a presentation on the service which he will give early in January.
While Brookfield and McDonald are still researching the telephone alert system, Lordstown has been running it for a year.
Lordstown Councilman John McCarthy said as far as he knows Lordstown is the only area in the county currently using the telephone alert system.
The village has been utilizing CodeRed for a year and is planning on renewing its contract with possible additions to the services.
McCarthy said the village began looking into the service after talking about problems they were having with aging tornado sirens. The sirens can be hard to hear if residents are indoors and have become expensive to repair. McCarthy called the sirens a "maintenance nightmare" saying that the 10 sirens cost about $8,400 to maintain each year.
CodeRed costs $3,000 for Lordstown to operate for a year.
The village provided the company with a list 1,500 addresses to notify of anything from boil-water alerts and missing person reports to inclement weather conditions. Residents also are able to add their cell phones to the list through a link on the village's website.
According to Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill, the village is working out a few bugs in the telephone list since its area code also includes Champion residents. Hill said this caused some confusion when they sent out messages to notify residents that trick-or-treat night for Halloween was changed from Wednesday to Saturday due to inclement weather. To rectify the message being sent to Champion residents they sent out a second clarification notice.
Hill said they have also used the system to send notifications about a natural gas line meeting.
Within the village only certain individuals have access to the alert system within the police department, the administration, and the water department.
They are looking to expand their contract to include automatic warnings from the National Weather Service.
McCarthy said CodeRed is not intended to replace the tornado sirens because they are needed to warn people outside who may not have their cell phones on them. He also said the village is staying away from adding text message alerts so residents don't have to pay to receive alerts.
Telephone alert systems have become popular at universities nationwide to announce emergencies and notices and at grade schools to announce snow days.