Paonia trustees voted last week to approve an intergovernmental agreement between the town and Delta County to participate in the Code Red Emergency Notification System (ENS). Trustees also approved the town's annual cost share of $1,400.
Montrose Emergency Telephone Service Authority (METSA) administers the service to Delta County and six other counties. Participation allows municipalities to issue emergency calls to select areas in the event of an emergency. Notices are limited to situations posing "eminent or potential threat to life and/or property."
According to the METSA website, the system has available 112,500 Code Red ENS minutes annually, and Delta County and its municipalities are entitled to 34,537 system minutes annually, based on population.
This is the third year the program, formerly known as the Reverse 911 system, has been in effect. In discussing the expense in a time of tight budgets, trustees agreed it is a necessary one, and mayor Neal Schwieterman called participation in the program "imperative" for the safety of all citizens in the event of an emergency.
Paonia Police Department investigator Neil Ferguson said he knows of no instances when the town instigated an ENS call in its three years in the program.
All existing and newly-issued land lines in the county are automatically registered for the service. All residents are encouraged to register their information on the Delta County website if they want emergency notices to go to cell and mobile phones, either by text or call, and to receive email addresses.
Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee says the department strongly encourages all cell phone users to sign up. Unfortunately, said McKee, only about 30 percent of cell phone users in the county are estimated to have registered at this time. Business owners are also encouraged to register their contact information.
Registration is free and simple (I took less than 10 minutes to register my cell phone and email address). Go to www.deltacounty.com, click on the "CODE RED" logo on the left side of the screen, and follow the prompts.
The county website also has a list of frequently asked questions about Code Red, information on disaster preparedness and other emergency planning, as well as weather and travel information.
"I'm just curious as to how it works, and also making sure that people make use of it," said Mayor pro tem Charles Stewart, "so that if, in fact, there is an emergency, we can notify them as soon as possible."