County EMA Director Hale proposes satellite radar system

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    By Josh Troy
    Clarksdale Advocate

    Coahoma County Emergency Management Agency Director Charles Hale is working on bringing a satellite radar system to the community in an effort to save lives in inclement weather. Hale speaking to the Clarksdale Board of Mayor and Commissioners about his proposal at Monday’s meeting, highlighted discussions about disaster relief. He said he has been working on bringing a satellite radar system to Coahoma County for the past six months.

    “This opportunity has the potential to save lives, most definitely, and strengthen our ability to protect in inclement weather,” he said. Hale said the satellite radar system would also support other counties such as Tallahatchie, Quitman, Tate, and Panola. “It has a system that sometimes can give us data, maybe a few minutes, maybe a minute, 30 seconds or so before the National Weather Service could put it out because the radar system is right here,” he said.

    Hale said the County would share the satellite radar system with the local schools, the city’s public works, local first responders, and others. “The capabilities of this radar system are second to none,” he said. “It’s one of the top generations of the systems that have been placed out.” Hale said the satellite radar system has to go on a high platform. He added one water tower south of Edwards on Tennessee Avenue and another on Spruce and Herrin streets are both possibilities for where the satellite radar system could go.

    Hale said the satellite radar system is a government grant project and will not cost anything. Experts will come out and inspect the platform and water tower before the satellite radar system is implemented. After the storms and tornadoes in Rolling Fork and other central Mississippi communities, Hale said it is a good time to be working on implementing a satellite radar system.

    “I’m hoping this will be an eyeopener with what we just went through,” he said. “I’m hoping we can pull together and use a water tower and get this system in and not only serve Coahoma County, but serve our neighboring sister counties as well.” Commissioners expressed their support.

    “My goodness, it’s a no-brainer,” said Ward 2 Commissioner Ken Murphey. “The job of everybody sitting up here is to protect our citizens. I just think we need to bring whatever entities that need to be brought in here to make this thing work.” Murphey said Clarksdale Public Utilities would be involved with some of the work on the water tower used for the satellite radar system.

    “Let me know if you get any kickback from any other entities because this is a no-brainer to protect the citizens, the children, and everyone,” said Murphey to Hale. “Let me know how we need to push this.” Ward 3 Commissioner Willie Turner agreed with Murphey’s sentiments. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication and what you’re doing to bring us up to where we need to be,” Turner said.

    The board unanimously voted to support the climate satellite project, enter into any agreements and write a letter of support to CPU. Hale also said he appreciated the city’s help in assisting in the Rolling Fork disaster.

    “Right now, we’re getting to the point where this is going to be a long enduring process,” Hale said. “We’re all coming in and supporting, but where will the support be next month? So I want you to keep that in mind when we’re getting supplies together and things of that nature.” Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals, who was the Mayor Pro-Tempore in Mayor Chuck Espy’s absence, mentioned several disasters.

    Seals talked about the storms and tornadoes in the Rolling Fork area on Monday, the shooting at Covenant School, a private Christian School in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday, and the accident outside of Batesville. Police identified Audrey Hale as the shooter in Nashville and alleged he used three guns for the attack. Three teachers and three students were killed.

    Five people, ages 12 to 19, were recently killed in Batesville after their car hit a bridge and fell into a creek. “Let’s keep in mind the people in Nashville,” Seals said. “Three students, along with three teachers, were murdered by a former student. Her age was 28 and, at the time, no other comments were given. We want to keep those family members in mind as well as the family members that were killed by the tornado on Friday night.”

    Seals said approximately 26 lives were lost in the storms and tornadoes. “We’re asking all citizens who can afford, or if you cannot afford it, you may want to participate by bringing some supplies to help those tornado victims in Rolling Fork, Silver City and Amory,” he said. “If you want to participate, please take those items to the south room annex at the auditorium.”

    Seals then talked about the accident in Batesville. “We also want to keep in mind those five family members that were killed in an accident outside of Batesville,” he said. Seals added that a survivor could get out of the car and alert some of the authorities for assistance. Community Advocate Milton Gardner informed the board of his work to assist the Rolling Fork area.

    “I initially went around collecting money from businesses,” he said. “The money that I received, I turned it over to the fire station to Chief (Rocky) Nabors, which he could attest to that.” Gardner said the Dollar General store donated $100 to $150 of goods, and he brought it to the Civic Auditorium. “This is not my first rodeo,” he said. “I was involved in the ice storm of 1994.” The 1994 ice storm hit 26 counties in Mississippi.

    In other business:
    •The board voted against allocating $20,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to the local Boys & Girls Club. The city has already determined how its ARPA funds will be spent.
    •The board also accepted Amanda Dear-Jones’ letter of appreciation for being named a 2023 Modern Day Champion. Fifteen Clarksdale residents were recognized as Modern Day Champions in conjunction with Black History Month in February.

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