A new county-wide alert system is just about ready to be put to use in McDonough County.
The goal is to make all residents, especially in rural areas, more aware in an emergency.
Residents who live in rural McDonough County said they often have no way of hearing about local emergencies. But that’s soon going to change, as officials work to get the new system up and running.
At the Adair Cafe, owner Barb Featherlin said staying alert is tough.
“There’s a lot of things that happen and we don’t have a clue about what’s going on around here,” Featherlin said.
She said the only way to find out about an emergency is from the fire station, or word of mouth.
“A lot of people call up here to the Adair Cafe and say hey, what’s going on with this? They think I’m the news place here I guess,” Featherlin said.
But that’s soon going to change, as county officials work out the final kinks in a new county-wide alert system.
Emergency Services Director Edgar Rodriguez said the new alert system will offer text messages, landline phone calls and emails. It will automatically alert residents of emergency situations and give them a choice to receive other news and updates in the county.
“It is happening,” Rodriguez said. “It’s something that I’m passionate about, to be able to communicate this information to the community.”
He said the last step is to collaborate with all towns in the county to fund the new system.
“The city of Macomb is already on board, the county is already on board,” Rodriguez said. “The other communities will have to allocate funding for it.”
The system will include alerts for severe weather, boil orders, amber alerts and road closures.
It’s an idea Featherlin said will help keep everyone safe.
“I think it would be great,” Featherlin said. “People need to know what’s going on. Everyone’s got cell phones, everyone is on their cellphone all the time.”
Rodriguez said he hopes to have the new system up and running this fall. He said he plans to set up booths at events throughout the county so people can sign up.
Rodriguez said he plans to continue to meet with towns about funding the system and that it will cost about $9,000 the first year, then go down to $8,000 per year.