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JONESVILLE — Beginning late next week, residents of Jonesville will be able to hear a tornado siren at the same time Columbus and Hope residents receive the warnings.
Town leaders in Jonesville have raised the funds necessary to purchase a tornado warning system for the southern Bartholomew County community of about 180 people. Residents of nearby Villa Park, Little Acres and White Creek also are expected to get ample warning if it’s determined a twister might be threatening their homes.
The installation and equipment is expected to cost approximately $23,000. According to Jonesville Town Board member Audrey McFarlane, her community has been setting aside money from municipal funding sources for the past three years to afford the purchase.
“It’s a relief,” McFarlane said. “Especially when you consider what happened in Henryville, it’s nice to know we’ll have a warning from now on.”
A March 2 tornado leveled a 50-mile swath through Clark County including Henryville. The storm killed three people and destroyed all of the public schools in the town.
The system in Jonesville will be installed Wednesday. Those living in or near the small town off State Road 11, near the Bartholomew-Jackson County line, could hear the sirens being tested Wednesday after the installation is completed. Beginning in July, Jonesville will join Hope and Columbus in testing their equipment on the first Friday of every month at noon.
“Jonesville actually did have a tornado warning system until five years ago,” Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Director Ed Reuter said. “But eventually, it just wore out and became disabled. We feel really good about having a warning system serving the southern part of the county.”
The new equipment in Jonesville will be linked with the 14 sirens installed throughout Columbus and the one set up in Hope. Reuter said this means his office can hit one button and set off sirens in populated areas from the northern part of Bartholomew County to the southern region.
However, the Emergency 911 Center will follow a new guideline established in late May by the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety. The protocol states the sirens will no longer be activated when a tornado watch or thunderstorm warning has been issued. A watch is put into effect by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for a funnel cloud to develop, but a tornado has not been seen.
Reuter said his department only will utilize the countywide system to alert residents of tornado warnings, which are issued when a twister visually has been observed by a trained weather spotter or picked up by radar.
“The need is there because there are a lot of smaller communities mixed into open areas in southern Bartholomew County,” Reuter said.
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