City spends $15,000 to call homes for warnings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Vicksburg residents can sign up to receive phone calls when there is an emergency in the city, an impending storm or other situation calling for a widespread alert.

Monday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen — in the absence of South Ward Aldermen Sid Beauman — voted to pay Florida-based Emergency Communications Network Inc. $15,000 to provide one year of the phone service starting late next month.

“This system is capable of calling everybody in the city in 3 to 4 minutes to notify them of an emergency situation,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

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The city is hoping to have the service in place by Jan. 29, said Vicksburg Emergency Management Director Anna Booth, and residents can begin enrolling next week by calling the city’s action line at 601-801-3411 or online at

When registering, Booth said residents can choose to receive calls only in the event of an emergency — called “code red” service — but can also choose to be called when their home is included in a weather-related warning area. Those who participate can choose to have their home phone or cell phone called by the automated service, said Booth, and there will be no charge to those who sign up. Residents can also choose to opt out of the service.

Emergencies could include anything from an evacuation order or boil water notice to a missing persons alert, and Booth said the city will be able to tailor the system’s messages to specific areas of the city. Calls for weather notices would occur when a warning has been issued for Vicksburg, but not for a watch.

Booth said the city has been looking at incorporating a phone system for emergency notification for about a year and said it will augment the six emergency sirens in the city.

“This system will alert more people about an emergency and give them more specific information,” she said.

The City of Meridian also has contracted Emergency Communications Network for the service, said Booth, and other municipalities in the state are considering paying for the service. Emergency Communications Network has been in business since 1998, and contracts its services to municipalities in more than a dozen states.

If the system is well-received, the city has the option of renewing the contract with Emergency Communications Network for $10,000 for another year of service.


Contact Steve Sanoski at