Photo by Jason White
Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery is donating $250,000 to replace tornado sirens in Hartford, Roxana, South Roxana and Wood River. Hartford Mayor James Spann, Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Manager Jay Churchill, Hartford Fire Chief Dave Owens and Wood River Mayor Fred Ufert (front row, from left) publicly announced the refinery’s donation Tuesday at Hartford Village Hall.
HARTFORD — Public safety in four Greater Alton towns got a refinery-powered boost Tuesday.
Municipal officials from Hartford, Roxana, South Roxana and Wood River gathered at Hartford Village Hall for an announcement by Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery Manager Jay Churchill of a $250,000 donation from the refinery to upgrade storm warning systems and boost safety awareness.
“For us this represents an opportunity to give back to the community,” Churchill said. “We have a long history of working together when there’s issues that need to be addressed.”
The project will get under way soon and is expected to be ready by spring. Four new sirens will be installed, including in Kendall Hill and the southern end of South Roxana. The sirens will be louder and will be strengthened by the refinery’s internal alert system.
Each of the municipalities will own the equipment. Under the warranty agreement, a technician will check the sirens every year, saving money on maintenance costs, Roxana Fire Chief Daryl Trask said.
“I think this donation just shows the level of commitment Phillips has to the surrounding communities,” Trask said.
Besides the new sirens, the donation will be used to educate the public on severe weather preparedness. Fire department personnel will bring programming to schoolchildren and organize a National Weather Service storm spotters training course. Hartford Fire Chief Dave Owens said his department will stress the importance of Code Red, a cellphone notification system offered through Madison County, along with weather radios.
Owens said he was glad to see the cooperative nature of the project.
“To get four communities to agree on one thing, all at the same time, that’s a feat in itself,” Owens said.
In Wood River, the city plans to link the sirens to an emergency notification network. Wood River Mayor Fred Ufert and Hartford Mayor James Spann praised the refinery for its commitment to public safety.
“Phillips 66 is stepping up the plate, which is not unusual,” Ufert said. “They are an excellent corporate citizen.”
Spann said he was “tickled to death” about the new sirens.
“I think this is going to be an asset for the whole community,” Spann said.
Severe weather struck the area on May 31, 2013, when a tornado damaged the refinery and nearby buildings.
“We’ve got to be prepared for those instance when bad things happen,” Churchill said. “We can fix things, but we can’t replace people who get hurt.”