By Chris Newbrough
Audrain County Public Information Officer
An effort to purchase an outdoor warning siren for the Community R-VI School District campus in rural Laddonia is continuing.
Audrain County Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Shaw says the effort, which began in earnest this past Spring, is still actively seeking donations from area businesses and foundations in the hopes of raising the remaining funds soon.
“So far, to date, we have accumulated just over $6,100 in donations from businesses in the Laddonia area,” he said. “That leaves us just $4,300 short of the purchase price of $10,431. We are so grateful for the businesses and area residents that have donated money for the purchase so far.”
The siren will be placed on the campus of Community R-VI and will be used to primarily alert those outside of the school on the baseball and softball fields that severe weather is imminent. The school has a weather radio inside the school building to alert staff of severe weather moving into the area and that will be the primary means of alerting staff when school is in session.
“It’s not unfair to say the siren will be able to be heard inside the school as well when it is set off,” Shaw said. “But, the primary role of an outdoor warning siren is just that, warn those outside of severe weather. When school is in session during the day and severe weather threatens, that’s when the radio in the office comes into play. The siren will alert those on the ballfields and in the parking lot of approaching weather and will be their cue to get inside to a safe location.”
So far, businesses such as Martinsburg Mutual Insurance, POET Biofuels, Orscheln Industries, ADM, the Community R-VI School District Board of Education, and various private citizens have contributed to the purchase.
“It’s great seeing so many businesses and private citizens recognizing the importance of this project and wanting to contribute,” Shaw said. “But, we are not at the finish line yet. That won’t happen until the siren goes on the pole at the school. We are asking anyone in Audrain County that wants to help us reach that goal to do so now. Severe weather season, meaning tornado season, is only a few months away again and we want to have this siren in place before it arrives.”
The school sits in a remote location of the county, five miles from the nearest municipality. This makes it more vulnerable in the eyes of Shaw and his office. The possibility of a tornado hitting the campus and no one knowing about it while they are playing an outdoor sport is greatly enhanced because of no outdoor warning system.
“We’re not trying to scare folks into making donations,” Shaw emphasized. “But, facts are facts. Right now, those attending softball games in the fall and baseball games in the spring are at more of a risk from a tornado hitting them at the school because there is no outdoor warning system. We’d really like to eliminate that worry for players, coaches, and fans by this coming Spring.”
If you’d like to make a donation, or know of a business that isn’t physically located in eastern Audrain County but does business there, you can contact the Audrain County Emergency Management Agency and Shaw at 573-473-5892.