County seeks to expand warning siren footprint, delays parking lot agreement

ARDMORE – Carter County Commissioners have given a green light to apply for grant money that could help offset the cost for three new warning sirens across the county. Monday’s approval will allow county officials to pursue funds from the Rural Economic Action Plan, or REAP, before committing to buying the new sirens.

The goal of the latest effort to expand the county’s siren network is to add one new siren to each of the county’s three districts.

“The amount we’re going to get back from REAP is $25,000 per district,” Carter County Emergency Management Director Paul Tucker told commissioners on Monday.

The county has been slowly adding warning sirens across the county for several years. The commission in 2019 approved a 15th siren to be added to the Carter County Emergency Management’s inventory, according to previous independent reporting. Tucker believes that number has since climbed to 27 sirens across the county.

Monday’s vote does not directly mean the sirens will be erected, but will instead allow county emergency management officials to pursue grant money for the 3 new sirens. Once funding is secure, officials can then scout locations and assess what utilities and other infrastructure would be needed.

“We have to wait until they approve it [grant application] before we go out and actually look at the physical locations,” Tucker told Carter Observer after Monday’s meeting.

The commission on Monday also voted to table a parking lot agreement with a real estate group for further consideration as the county undertakes extensive renovations at the county administration building. The proposed agreement with Simon & Simon Properties involves the roughly 33-spot parking lot at the former Daily Ardmoreite building, which has been vacant since 2021.

Commissioner Berry Lee-Brinkman was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Commissioner Joe David McReynolds said he was first approached by the real estate group last year about county employees using the private parking lot during construction at the administration building. While county employees used the lot across West Broadway for a few weeks in 2023, McReynolds said that planned work on the administration building’s west side this year could mean that the county’s parking lot could be restricted for over a year.

“At that time we were looking at 3 or 4 months, not for a year-and-a-half,” McReynolds said.

A proposed lease for $2,750 would allow county employees to use the newspaper’s former parking lot through June, but commission president Bill Baker appeared skeptical of the proposal. Commissioners voted to table the proposed agreement until the district attorney can review it.

Watch the meeting

Read the agenda