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Wayne public alerts texted to your home

Emergency management officials introduced a new public alert system for Wayne County on July 18. Pictured are Pete Hooker, emergency management deputy director, left; Commissioner Wendell Kay; Steven Price, emergency management director; commissioners Brian Smith and Jonathan Fritz; and county treasurer Brian Field.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
July 24, 2013

The Wayne County Commissioners on July 18 authorized a new public alert system to go live.

If you want to know the latest from the county’s emergency management agency about weather or traffic problems, you can sign up to have emails or text messages sent directly to your cell phone, pager, smartphone, or email account, emergency management director Steven Price told the commissioners.

The system will not be an alternative to a radio scanner, commissioner Jonathan Fritz explained.

“There will be no cats in the tree calls,” added commissioner Wendell Kay.

School weather closings will not be messaged, but school emergency announcements will be made available to residents of the various school districts.

The main problem for Price now is getting out the word of the system’s availability. “We’ll be in the papers, on Facebook and TV,” he said.

The service, “ReadyNotifyWayne,” is a product of the combined efforts of the county agency and the Northeast PA Regional Counter-Terrorism Task Force.

As the task force involvement implies, the system will handle other information as well, including fire, EMS, police and county government messages. But not everyone who signs up for every type of message will be getting all those messages, as its traffic will also include secure messages for emergency service personnel. “We will screen those who sign up so that appropriate emergency service members will be getting those messages,” Price said.

Price said all incoming information will be vetted for accuracy before messages go out.

A sign-up form for the new service appears at wayne.alertpa.org.

The Northeast PA Regional Counter-Terrorism Task Force was formed in 1998 in response to growing awareness of the threat of terrorism. Its focus has broadened to include all hazards such as natural disasters. Pertinent messages from the other seven counties in the task force will also be available, Price said.

“TV and radio have been the outlets for emergency notifications in the past, but society has changed and this is our evolution,” Fritz said.

In other business, the commissioners tabled the single bid received for the installation of a new elevator, reporting that the bid received was more than twice the amount estimated by a county engineer. Kay said he wanted to hear from the county’s engineer and see if he expects a different outcome if the bid is re-advertised.

The commissioners also approved seven new hires and salaries for the county prison.