County now equipped with emergency alert system

County now equipped with emergency alert system

March 6th, 2013 by Rachel Sauls-Wright in Walker

An online and phone emergency alert system is now available for all Walker County residents.

Anyone can sign up for the system that notifies residents with a phone call, text message or email alert in the event of natural disasters or other weather-related issues. Those interested can sign up online at www.walkerga.us or by calling the 911 center's nonemergency number at 706-375-7810. People choosing to use the text or email function can also sign up for community alerts.

"If you want other community information sent to you by text or email it may be something like there is an alert kind of like the Amber Alert so we can put that out immediately locally," said Walker County Coordinator David Ashburn. "It won't be used for things like baseball sign-ups."

To sign up, residents must provide their name, address and phone number. Residents are given the option of listing people at the address who might have special needs like regular use of a wheelchair or someone who is permanently bedridden. In the event of a natural disaster, county emergency service personnel could use the information about people needing special assistance to help direct any necessary rescue efforts, Ashburn said.

People can list as many phone numbers as they would like, including both cellphones and land lines, however landlines should be indicated either to the 911 center or in the appropriate place while registering online. People must also choose whether or not they want to receive weather updates, community updates or both. No phone calls will be made for community updates.

"One unique thing we can do is we can break down county into subareas," said Ashburn. "If the real warning is occurring from LaFayette South, it will just pick up phones and text areas in LaFayette South."

The reverse 911 program is being funded 100 percent by grant funding, Ashburn said. In two years, the funding will expire and he said the county will partner with Dade County to continue offering the services.

For more information, call 706-375-7810 or visit the Walker County government website.

Community engagement

Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell plans to begin hosting a series of 20 community meetings across the county beginning Monday, April 1. These meetings will give residents the opportunity to weigh in on a SPLOST referendum for the county that would go into effect in 2014 but will be voted on in this November's election.

Heiskell said the reason for voting on the referendum in 2013 as opposed to 2014 is because the current referendum will expire in 2014 and would cause a two-month lag in taxation if the referendum is passed. Suspending and then reinstating the SPLOST taxation two months later could cause issues for local businesses that use computers and cash registers to automatically add the tax while calculating transactions, she explained.

Historically, Walker County has always approved the SPLOST and Heiskell said she anticipates this year won't be any different. If approved in the November 2013 election, the SPLOST tax will be effective for five years after its November 2014 initiation.