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Local man working to bring back tornado warning sirens to Warren County

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Chandler Bonelli was out collecting signatures Friday at the Klondyke. (photo by David Day)

Chandler Bonelli wants Vicksburg and Warren County to put warning sirens back into the equation to warn residents in the event of bad weather or other emergency issues. In fact, he is so serious that he is gathering voter’s signatures on a petition to present to the city and county boards. As of Friday, he had almost 2,000 signatures.

Bonelli said previous county boards were not receptive to even discussing the issue, but after conversations with Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer and new District 5 Supervisor Kelli Barfield, he feels now might be a good time to look at the issue again.

“I applaud Mr. Bonelli’s efforts,” Elfer said. “Instead of sitting back and complaining, he’s out there finding out if the public supports spending tax money on this issue. But, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to costs.”

When Elfer took over as WCEMA director, the sirens were outdated and had become inoperable. Soon after, the county implemented the Code Red system, which notifies residents by phone in a variety of emergency events.

“I backed the move to Code Red because of how cost-effective it is and the fact that it can reach a lot of residents fast,” he said.

This map shows tornado siren systems across the state. To see the map online, go to https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=31f42be36f1c4ae7b31a9d04e79528a7.

Elfer estimated that sirens would be a $1 to $3 million investment for the county, which would need about 100 sirens at a cost of $10,000 to $30,000 each. While federal grant funds may be available to cover those costs, the county also has numerous other priorities including road repairs and a new jail.

“We will definitely look at this issue if it’s what the public wants,” he said.

Barfield echoed Elfer’s sentiments.

“I have already discussed this issue at length with Mr. Bonelli,” she said. “We, as a board, want to do a better job of communicating with our constituency. We have several things we are working to achieve that. Having worked in the nuclear industry, I completely understand the need for a multi-faceted warning mechanism.”

District 1 Supervisor Edward Herring represents the board on the county’s E-911 Commission, and he reiterated the sentiments of Elfer and Barfield.

“I really want to research this issue thoroughly. This Board is committed to listening to the will of the people,” Herring said. “We need to see what possible grant funding may be available from the state and federal levels for warning sirens.”

All of the county officials encouraged people to consider signing up for Code Red through the Code Red website or by calling WCEMA at 601-636-1544.

Elfer also encourages people to consider buying a weather-alert radio that can run on battery power. Many models are available for under $30, he said.

Bonelli, a former Vicksburg firefighter, has seen destruction firsthand. Adamant about the importance of a siren warning system, he takes his campaign to various locations every week to gather more support and signatures.

“Who is gonna accept responsibility for the dead bodies when the inevitable strikes Vicksburg again?” he asked.

Reach him at 601-634-8406 after 7 p.m.

News

Single vehicle crash sends local man to hospital

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Photo by Thomas Parker

A local man was injured after crashing into a pole Sunday morning.

Vicksburg EMS/Fire and Police were dispatched to a single vehicle crash on Mission 66 near its intersection with Military Avenue at around 7:30 Sunday morning.

The vehicle left the roadway striking a utility pole.

The driver was transported by Vicksburg Fire Medic 40 to UMMC for treatment.  His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The investigation into this accident is ongoing.

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Fire

Fire at Cato Fashions Saturday evening

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(photo by Thomas Parker)

Vicksburg firefighters were called to a fire at Cato Fashions, 2184 Iowa Blvd., Saturday around 6:30 p.m. near the Walmart Supercenter.

Firefighter checks the HVAC vents. (photo by Thomas Parker)

First reports say smoke could be seen coming from the vents, and firefighters are checking the HVAC system for problems. The situation seems well under control.

The store has been evacuated as are staff and customers in nearby stores. There are no reports of injuries.

Numerous Vicksburg fire and police units have responded including Engines 7 and 8, Ladder 15, Rescue, Fire Medic 80 and Battalion 1 (Tim Love).

The Vicksburg Daily News will provide updates as we receive them.

See our live, on-the-scene report on our Facebook page.

 

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Education

Mississippi native elected as Harvard student body president

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(photo courtesy Noah Harris)

A Mississippi high school graduate has been elected as Harvard University’s student body president.

Noah Harris, a 2018 graduate of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the first African American to serve in the role at prestigious Harvard University in Massachusetts.

“I’m really grateful that the student body is entrusting me with such a historic and unprecedented moment,” Harris told WDAM. “To make the right moves and to really bring their voices to the forefront. I just never expected that I would be in a position to run for this.”

Harris is a junior and a political science major at Harvard. He served as treasurer on the finance committee in his first two years. His vice president and running mate is neuroscience major Jenny Gan. Both plan on making a difference at the university.

Harris and Gan will be sworn in Dec. 6.

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