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?Doomsday' siren donated to Jonesboro

By Ed Brock

When the end comes Jonesboro residents might have a hard time hearing Gabriel's trumpet over the mighty sound issuing from the city's Federal Warning Systems 1000B warning sirens.

"Some people call this one the doomsday siren," said Ed Wise, who donated the sirens to the city.

The sirens, acquired by Wise through Duke Power of South Carolina, are upgrades of the Federal Warning Systems Series Two omni-directional siren Wise donated to the city in 2001 and a siren the city has owned for 25 years.

The sirens can be used in the event of severe weather or other incidents in which people must be alerted to danger.

"We had our finger on the button last week," Wise said, referring to severe weather that moved through the area.

Wise, a member of the Jonesboro Volunteer Fire Department who also works at Pope Dickson and Son Funeral Directors, acquired the large, red conical Series Two siren the city currently uses from his hometown of Chesapeake, Va. and refurbished it.

It will come down from its perch near the Jonesboro Police Department headquarters to make way for one of the new sirens.

"I'll probably give that one to a small fire department," Wise said.

The older siren has already been taken down from behind the city's new fire station on North Main Street and replaced. Wise said the old siren would probably be saved for a city fire museum that is planned.

"The old timers say you could hear that one all over town," Wise said. "That was 25 years ago and with all the ambient noise and traffic it's not like 25 years ago ? These little ones just didn't pack the punch we were hoping for."

The sirens are actually 25 years old and Wise said that when they were new they cost about $17,000.

They should be far more effective than the current sirens, Jonesboro Fire Chief Jimmy Wiggins said. The other sirens were tested on the first Wednesday of the month at noon and the new ones will be tested at the same time on an undesignated Wednesday when the weather is clear.

The 1000B is the second most powerful siren made and the two that Wise is donating to the city were used at the Oconee Nuclear Station in Seneca, S.C.

"These new ones are supposed to cover the city and some surrounding area," Wiggins said. "Ed Wise has been invaluable."

The Jonesboro City Council gave Wise a Citizens Service Award last year for his help with the sirens and other city projects.

"He's just been so participatory in the city," Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day said.

Wise has sent sirens to other towns as well, such as Farmingdale, N.Y. and Crescent City, Calif. Pope Dickson and Son paid for the transportation of Jonesboro's new sirens and Triple L. Electrical donated the cable pipe for them.

Jarett Miller provided the crane used to put the siren in place.