Port remains committed to warning sirens

Council agrees to spend $21,000 to upgrade system used to warn of dangerous weather, other emergencies
Ozaukee Press staff

Last March, the City of Port Washington’s warning sirens repeatedly sounded even though the weather was calm and there was no pending emergency.

On Tuesday, aldermen agreed to take a big step toward making sure the situation doesn’t repeat itself, spending $21,000 to replace the warning siren on the Port Washington-Saukville School District office grounds.

That’s the siren that caused much of the consternation last year, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

Aldermen were poised to replace three of its sirens with two new ones this year, but tabled that proposal earlier this month after City Attorney Eric Eberhardt said the city may need to seek bids for the warning signals.

The city had been working with American Signal Corp. to replace all but one of its sirens — that one, on Wisconsin Street overlooking the police station and downtown, was replaced two years ago.

American Signal has determined that three sirens can do the work of the current four sirens, Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

That plan called for the city to eliminate the sirens on the Dunwiddie Elementary School site and the Ozaukee County Highway Department grounds and replace them with a larger unit near the city’s water tower on Mineral Springs Drive in the industrial park.

“That one will cover a larger area and make up for the other two,” Hingiss said.

Now, Grams said, the city will budget to buy that larger siren next year.

Hingiss noted that, with the exception of the Wisconsin Street unit, the city’s sirens are about 60 years old.

There have been numerous times when they have frozen in the winter, he said, and when they have gone off with no warning when there isn’t a pending emergency.

“When they do go off, we’re never sure where the issue is,” Hingiss added, noting it could be a problem with the siren, the wiring or with equipment at the Police Station or water plant.

When the sirens kept going off last spring, two issues were found — there was a problem with a circuit in one case, and mice had gotten into the equipment at one siren and chewed through the wires, setting it off — Hingiss said.

The city budgeted $25,000 to replace the sirens this year.

Hingiss noted that the new sirens will have a battery back-up — something the current sirens don’t have — and they will save the city money in operating costs as well. 

That’s because the current sirens operate through telephone circuits that cost the city about $8,000 annually, while the new ones will operate digitally.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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