While poles for storm sirens in Brazil Township were set Wednesday, no one seems to know when they will be fully functional.
Brazil Township Trustee Marcia Tozer told The Brazil Times that employees from Cinergy, which donated its services, were placing poles for the three emergency sirens at Calvary Baptist Church, J&B Trucking and Yankee Rose sites. Each pole will weigh about 454 pounds with the sirens and control boxes. The poles are 60 feet long, eight feet of which are underground. The control box bolted to the top is about two feet tall, and padlocks will be put on the breaker boxes to deter vandals.
The electromagnetic si-rens, which will sound for a full 15 minutes with back-up batteries if they are cut off from power, are capable of making three distinct sounds. A steady wail will indicate bad weather, and the other tones will be introduced slowly, Tozer said. A fast wail will be used for chemical hazards, such as spills from accidents on the interstate. Residents in the southern end of the county requested a slow wail be designated for flooding.
"It's the Sheriff who has to set the sirens off," she said.
The Clay County Sheriff's Department will be responsible for sending one of three signals to set the siren tone, while a fourth code will be used to keep the sirens operating smoothly after power surges.
"I want those sirens tested before it's a done deal," Tozer said.
The sirens are costing more than anticipated, and she plans to transfer as much of her own salary as necessary to pay for the sirens. Once they are up and operational, the city will handle maintenance and insurance for a period of 20 years.
"This has been a comedy of errors all the way through from beginning to end," Tozer said, estimating the total cost will range from $41,000-$42,000. "We didn't bargain for that much. We were in too deep."
She said that Brazil City Council members Jim Sheese and Ann Bradshaw approached her about a year ago about working with the township. They had expressed interest in enhancing resident safety through an alert system. A plan for the city to purchase one siren and the township to purchase two didn't work out, Tozer said, but the order had already been placed, so the township decided to purchase the third.
"That wasn't Jim Sheese's or Ann Bradshaw's fault. The city just needed the money elsewhere," she said. "There may be additional costs."
Tozer said she is somewhat concerned about the proximity of the trucking business building to the sirens because of the noise they will generate. She also wants to make sure residents know that while the sirens are new, they will be tested and citizens should not be concerned when the weather seems to be fair but the warning sounds can be heard. The sirens will sound at 127 decibels.
"A jet engine will put out 120-200 decibels on a takeoff depending on the size of the jet. This is not four little trumpets," she said. "I wouldn't want to be under it when it goes off. I've expressed my concerns, and that's all I can do."
The sirens have a 60-degree output and rotate at two to eight miles per hour depending on the setting. They have a life expectancy of 75 years, and can be heard from farther away in open areas, and about 1 1/4 miles in the city due to the sound bouncing off buildings.
Finances have been an obstacle, and Tozer said she planned to use the Indiana Air National Guard, which she explained is heavily involved in community service, to aid in installation. While state government officials approved, officials at the Pentagon wouldn't allow it, Tozer said, because volunteers can't take business away from contractors who have placed bids on the project. The trustee checked with the Indiana State Board of Accounts, and by contributing funds to the Enlisted Men's Dining Out Fund, which has not-for-profit status and receives no government funding, she could use persons from the Indiana Air National Guard.
"They felt real bad. But Washington said no. I'm getting off real cheap.
"We've just always been very frugal, she added, explaining she can be seen washing the windows of the office, doing her own vacuuming and using her personal home computer for her trustee duties. "This is why we have the money to buy these things."
New legislation that moves unused township money back to the state eliminated a previous amount of funding set aside to pay for the sirens. Installation of the sirens was delayed due to legal issues that both the city and township have worked on with securing easements. Tozer said she will use her own salary to make up the difference, emphasizing there will be no additional burden on taxpayers. Juggling contractors and volunteers has also posed scheduling challenges.
"Jim Sheese and Ann Bradshaw have been really supportive, and the city attorney (Joe Trout) has helped with getting the legal work quicker for us. We just didn't know what we were doing basically. You name it, it happened," Tozer said. "Now we know. It was a learning process. We're just taking it a day at a time."