Arkansas county examining use of mass alert system

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Washington County emergency management authorities are considering implementing a mass alert system for use during emergencies.

The Northwest Arkansas Times reports that County Judge Marilyn Edwards asked her staff in late January to research alert systems, just weeks after a tornado killed four in the tiny hamlet of Cincinnati on New Year's Eve.

County emergency management director John Luther says there are several choices of alert systems, which place phone calls and send text messages and email to residents during an emergency.

The towns of Springdale, Lincoln, Farmington and Prairie Grove already use such systems, as does the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Rick Johnson, the county's deputy emergency management director, says any alert system would cost more than $20,000 and would have to go through a public bid process.

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