STANFORD — Lincoln County could have a "reverse 911" emergency alert system in place as soon as March 1 after magistrates approved a $15,000 contract with emergency notification company CodeRED on Tuesday.
Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Donnie Gilliam said the system offered by CodeRED will allow severe-weather and other notifications to be sent out to Lincoln County residents via landline, cell phone, text message and email.
The system is more efficient than Lincoln County's warning siren system, because it can notify more people without maintenance costs or malfunctioning problems, he added.
The county's sirens can currently notify about 6,000 people "if they're all outside and listening for it," Gilliam said. As soon as the new system is online, Gilliam estimated it will be able to notify 10,000 people via landline phones and more people as they sign up for notifications via other devices.
Besides severe weather alerts, the CodeRED system will also allow county officials to notify the general population of things like Amber alerts, hazardous materials spills and road closures, Gilliam said.
Magistrates signed off on a plan to pay for two years of service from CodeRED using $15,000 of insurance money that was paid out to the county by the Kentucky Association of Counties to repair damaged warning sirens.
Gilliam said a KACo representative told him it would be OK for Lincoln County to use the funds for the CodeRED contract. As long as the funds are used for something related to emergency notifications, it's acceptable, he said.
Another approximately $11,000 of insurance money from KACo will be used to repair at least one emergency siren, Gilliam said.
Magistrate David Faulkner said the plan is a "great opportunity" for Lincoln County to try out a reverse 911 system without any cost for the county general fund.
Gilliam has approached the court on multiple occasions as far back as May 2012, encouraging magistrates to move forward with a reverse 911 plan.
There was some question previously as to whether the county was legally allowed to use the insurance money to pay for a reverse 911 system.
Had the fiscal court opted for reverse 911 last year, it could have entered into a three-year contract with DeltAlert for $12,000.
But DeltAlert was recently purchased by CodeRED and the $12,000 offer was taken off the table, Gilliam said.
Now that reverse 911 will be a reality, Lincoln County can phase out its siren system if it ever becomes too expensive or gets in the way of other technological advances, Gilliam said.
But until then, Gilliam said the county will continue to maintain the siren systems as long as it's feasible.