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Thurmont considers emergency
 notification system

Sarah Harrington

(12/14) The Thurmont Town Commissioners have begun discussion of an emergency notification program for residents. The topic rose from a discussion Chief Administrative Officer Jim Hummerick had with the Maryland Rural Water Association. The discussion focused on putting together a water protection and source protection plan, which led to the question: how would residents be notified if the town’s wells would be contaminated?

It was decided that the town needed to come up with a notification system that would alert residents not to drink the water while taking into consideration the fact that not all residents have cell phones, use email, or have television. Discussion then shifted to finding the quickest and best way to reach all residents in town in the event of an emergency. "We need to have these plans set in place to be able to receive grant money from the Maryland Rural Water Association," Hummerick stated.

Mayor Kinnaird opened up the discussion by pointing out that the topic had been discussed briefly in the past. He went on to suggest that the commissioners come together and look at the different options available to create an efficient notification system and plan.

Commissioner Burns suggested a public hearing to allow residents to have input in the process and share their ideas. The idea of a siren like the one Emmitsburg has to alert residents of severe storms or tornadoes was brought up. Commissioner Hamrick pointed out that Thurmont did not have a system like that set up.

It was then suggested that the town should consider partnering up with the fire department and the ambulance company on a siren type notification system. The siren would alert residents and let them know to turn on their televisions or radios for an important message.

Another option placed on the table was email. Burns acknowledged that getting people to give out their email addresses would be a difficult task since many worry about receiving spam emails. Burns’ solution to that problem was to have some sort of disclaimer stating, "if you sign up for this it will only be used in the event of an emergency declared by the mayor."

Burns agreed to take on the responsibility of leading the effort to find the best plan for the town and its residents.

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