The threat of severe weather is expected this weekend, and residents of Sturgis will have to rely on alternative methods to warn them of incoming storms.

The city's sole outdoor warning siren has been in disrepair for years and currently no longer functions at all.

Sturgis Mayor Billy Blankenship said age had caused the machine to sputter out.

"The siren is ancient," Blankenship said. "It's old. That's a very old siren. Motors only last for so long."

Along with mechanical failures, the siren also no longer effectively communicates with the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency, who determines when it will be activated.

EMA Director Kristen Campanella said the siren system is activated for the duration of a weather advisory and the continued usage might have broken the siren.

District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller said she was aware of the problem and was working with Campanella to find funding for a new siren.

Miller said the problem they kept running into was the attitude toward phasing sirens out in favor of other methods of alerting residents of dangerous weather.

"The problem is that grant funding for sirens is limited due to the persona that it gives residents believing it will wake them up at night," Miller said. "So that's why EMAs push having multiple ways that will wake you up."

Funding for sirens does exist, Campanella said, but because the state of Mississippi has had a string of federal disaster declarations over the past year especially, those funds are difficult to acquire.

Because of the constant federal disaster declarations in Mississippi, funds become available to projects all over the state, reducing the likelihood of Sturgis receiving its grant.

Alternative methods of alerting residents have become much more popular as sirens have begun to age, Campanella said. The CodeRED warning system, Campanella said, is particularly suited for Oktibbeha County residents.

"It's based off your address, so that's what we're trying to push," Campanella said.

The CodeRED warning system, which pushes alerts to users' smartphones, has already been paid for partially by the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, making it free for residents to use.

Still, Blankenship said the traditional siren may be a necessity in communities like Sturgis.

"Sturgis is a community with a lot of older people who don't have smartphones," Blankenship said. "People are aggravated about not having the siren."

For more on this story, read Saturday's Starkville Daily News.

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