Oakwood has been approved for a $25,000 grant to help put up emergency weather sirens at three locations around the city, including Oakwood Elementary School, which was smacked by an August 2008 tornado.
The total cost for the project is $59,000, with the city having to come up with $34,000 from its budget, City Manager Stan Brown told Oakwood City Council Monday night.
The council voted to authorize Brown to accept the grant, which is administered through the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Office of Homeland Security.
In addition to Oakwood Elementary, the city is looking at placing sirens at Hall County Fire Station No. 5 at Martin Road and Atlanta Highway, and in Chestnut Mountain off Martin Road and Winder Highway.
“Once you get those (sirens) in there, we’ve got a lot of the (Oakwood) area covered,” Brown said. “... I think this will be a great safety improvement for our community.”
Mayor Lamar Scroggs agreed, urging the council to approve the project.
“This is something we have pushed for, for a long time,” he said, adding that the new sirens “could save a lot of lives.”
Working with the Hall County Emergency Management Agency, Oakwood had “looked at existing (sirens) ... and where we really need some coverage,” Brown told the council.
Sirens now are at West Hall High School on McEver Road, Gainesville State College on Mundy Mill Road and the DaVinci Academy on Poplar Springs Road.
“We’ve got some holes when you look at the coverage,” Brown said.
With Monday’s action, the city will move forward in buying equipment from Mobile Communications of Gainesville.
Mobile Communications “is, as I understand it, the sole distributor for the type of equipment that the county is using,” Brown said.
Two tornadoes passed through Hall County on Aug. 26, 2008, with one damaging four first-grade classrooms at Oakwood Elementary and the other pulling most of the roof off the gym at Lyman Hall Elementary School off Memorial Park Drive near Gainesville.
Also, numerous trees fell around Gainesville State College and damaged one of the school’s pavilions.
In all, the tornadoes caused about $3.4 million in damage.
Hall County was able to sound tornado sirens ahead of an alert from the National Weather Service.
“An Oakwood police officer spotted the tornado and notified the 911 center,” Hall County Public Safety Director Marty Nix has said.