To the editor:
I believe the comments by Mr. Greczyn in the Letters to the Editor in the March 19 issue of the Leavenworth Times are a bit lacking in the true value of what happened when the tornado sirens were accidentially set off last week. While Mr. Greczyn and I both have a right to be concerned when it comes to not being able to hear the sirens, particularly in a school area, there is no guarantee these sirens will provide a 100 percent alert to the public.
On that morning I was in my basement and I did not hear the sirens going off yet there is one located only about two blocks from my house. Maybe I should request another siren be located closer to my house so I could be sure of hearing it. That way I can go to my safe place which just happens to be my basement. Kind of doubt that will happen due to the cost involved so I won't worry about it happening.
The fact people in the Warren Middle school did not hear the siren does pose a problem. Since this school is a very new school and designed with good acoustics to minimize the outside noise, thus allowing students to not be interrupted while studying, may present a new issue that had never been truly considered until now. I don't see Mr. Magaha as being responsible for the design of the school, but at least now maybe it's a new consideration for him as to where more sirens may be needed or other ways to notify the school officials when a warning is being issued.
In that regard, I would say this accidential activation was an excellent test of any shortfalls in the system as it showed a problem near Warren Middle school. On a side note, the yearly weather spotter training classes by the National Weather Service have been conducted at Warren Middle school for the last few years. I have to admit it is a very well sound-proofed building after personally attending those training sessions.
The county and Mr. Magaha do test these sirens on a regular basis and fix any issues discovered at that time. The question I may ask would be why wasn't the problem at Warren Middle school found sooner than last week? Are we sure everyone in the school missed hearing the sirens or just a few of the personnel in the school? If the earlier published testing times of the sirens were known by school personnel, why wasn't the problem reported sooner.
Suggesting Mr. Magaha was derelict in discharging his duties is considerably inappropriate in this situation. People do make mistakes and the problem was addressed immediately plus the public notified of the accidental activation in short order. Mr. Magaha takes his job responsibilities very seriously and in my opinion has been doing a very good job.
Page 2 of 2 - From my point of view, this accidental activation was an excellent test of the system as it was unexpected. This made people pay attention and ask if there was a weather issue occuring instead of the typical ignoring of the sirens on days when the test activations are published to the public. In other words, it got your attention as the sirens are intended to do. That's a good thing. It would also appear the sirens are effective on Fort Leavenworth which is a heavily populated area of great importance to our country.
As Mr. Magaha stated, the activation was accidential and steps have been taken to prevent it from happening again hopefully. On the positive side it did show some weaknesses in the alerting system and knowing Mr. Magaha he will be investigating to see how the system can be made more effective. Again, no system is 100 percent effective as I found out at my house that morning. There is no floor plan you follow for the placement of these sirens. That plan is developed over time and as changes in the population vary as well as where new structures are placed.
At least now we have an unexpected bonus to explore on how to make it work better for Warren Middle school and possibly other schools in the area. I consider this accidental activation a big positive and I'm glad it happened. That's how we learn to make things better.
Since I'm a county taxpayer, I'm one of Mr. Magaha's superiors. In that regard, I give you permission Mr. Magaha to do whatever you feel is necessary to fix the problem at Warren Middle school. I know you will take the necessary steps to do so and that's all I need. Keep up the good work. I look forward to the next Weather Spotter Training class. Looking forward to visiting Warren Middle School again for a few hours along with the many other people interested in learning more about our Kansas weather issues.
By the way Mr. Greczyn, have you taken the opportunity to attend any of these training sessions? If not, I would encourage you to do so. If you have, thanks for taking the time to be part of the weather spotters in the Leavenworth County area.