By Naomi Hatch
When an emergency happens, citizens want to know three things, according to District III Navajo County Supervisor Jason Whiting, “What’s going on? What do I need to do? And when is it going to end?”
Whiting, along with Emergency Management Director Mary Springer and Emergency Management Coordinator Katrina Jenkins, attended the Sept. 22 Snowflake Town Council meeting.
“The strategic goal is to preserve and protect,” said Whiting. “One way we can do that is through technology.”
Whiting explained that Ready Navajo County software provides citizen alerts and timely citizen notifications to the public. He then turned the time over to Springer and Jenkins to make a presentation on the system.
Springer explained that the Reverse 911 system required citizens to have a web address, and many did not have one. “We saw a big hole in the system we had, so we went out to public bid looking for a new system,” she said. They decided on Everbridge because it is a notification system that can do a multitude of things, allowing more flexibility, and it was the most functional.
Jenkins noted that the system will send out such things as Amber Alerts and weather warnings, “which will be good with the upcoming winter and an El Niño winter coming our way.”
Alerts can be received on cell phones or landlines, by text message or voice mail. “We can send alerts to a specific town or county wide, each situation is different. We want to be ready to send the information out to our citizens in whatever way they want to register,” said Jenkins.
“We never make anything up; we rely on law enforcement and put out the alert,” said Springer.
“We’re not patrolling on Facebook for the latest and greatest,” added Jenkins.
Mayor Tom Poscharsky asked if there is anywhere that citizens can see what has been posted.
Springer responded that www.311info.net already exists, and you can call 311 from a cell or landline phone and punch in 1 for Apache County and 2 for Navajo County.
Councilman Byron Lewis asked about backup if everything goes down.
“I don’t have the answer for that,” said Springer. “When all communications are out and nobody can get anything, that’s a tough one.”
“Are there any plans to move forward and take advantage of the local ham radio guys?” asked Lewis.
“That’s what we’re looking into now,” said Springer.
Register for Ready Navajo County online at www.navajocountyaz.gov. If you have questions, contact Springer at (928) 524-4046 or Jenkins at 524-4163.
In other business, the council approved Ordinance No. 15-10, rezoning property from Residential 8,000 ft. lots (R8) to Residential 1 acre lots (R-1A). The property is located directly west of the intersection of Plum Blossom Lane and Peach Blossom Lane in the West Gardens area.
“It’s simply putting it back to what it was a couple of years ago,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Dale Call.