Benton officials are considering moving one of the city's outdoor warning sirens to a new location to better serve east side residents.
Public Health and Safety Commissioner Don Storey estimated the cost to move a siren would be about $8,000 compared to $25,000 for a new one. The city has a total of eight sirens, five within the corporate city limits, according to Fire Chief Shane Cockrum.
"The one at the middle school was not operating the last time it was set off. People had a hard time hearing it and we have one that could be moved back into town," Storey said.
Cockrum said the siren being considered for a new location is now on Illinois 37 North. Cockrum said that siren doesn't have a lot of coverage and there is another siren near at Lake Benton.
"The way ours was designed in 1999 was to place four in the corners of Benton and one at the fire station," Cockrum said. "By doing so, taking into account prevailing winds and our storms coming out of the south/southwest area, we're so far on the outskirts of town that it increases the distance for our sirens that it makes it difficult for people -- particularly on the east side -- to hear their sirens.
"On this side of town, we're great, but on the other side of town we struggle," he added.
Cockrum said storm radios are still the best way to track storms, but city officials want residents to be able to hear the outdoor sirens as well.
"The more people that can hear them indoors, the better off we're going to be," he said. "Unfortunately that's not the way they were designed but that's what we're trying to achieve if we can."
He added, "We're trying to figure out a location that would best suit and fit. We think when we get it done we will have a good location."
Cockrum said fire department personnel will program weather radios free of charge. He also reported the Benton Community Center on North Main Street is the official storm shelter for local residents.
In other business, the city's water and sewer superintendent, Steve Shoultz, submitted his letter of resignation effective March 31. The council accepted the resignation with regrets.
Shoultz was an 11 1/2-year employee of the city, according to Public Property Commissioner Ronnie Baumgarte, who read the resignation. He also presented Shoultz with a plaque for his years of service.
"I would like the city to allow me to serve, including the mayor, commission and everyone I worked with here. There have been a lot of challenges but it's been a joy. I want to thank you all for your help and support," Shoultz said.
Shoultz reportedly will be moving out of state to be closer to family members in Missouri.