Forest Park offers new alert system

Forest Park officials have added another communication tool to alert residents to approaching bad weather and other emergency management related situations.

The Code Red program, already used by the police department in helping find missing kids, will work hand in hand with existing weather sirens, said fire Deputy Chief Matt Jackson. Jackson gave a presentation on the program during last night's regular city council meeting.

";Residents can go on the city web site and sign up to get as much or as little an alert that they want,"; said Jackson. ";The early warning sirens are great, but if you sleep like I do, you may not hear it at 3 a.m.";

Forest Park Police Capt. Jamie Reynolds told council that Code Red has replaced the reverse 911 system in his department because it is faster.

";The Code Red system can call everyone in the city in 3 seconds,"; said Reynolds.

Jackson said officials with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency contacted the fire department several months ago about applying for a grant to fund the system. Funding was approved last week, he said.

Residents can access the city's web site at www.forestparkga.org to sign up for Code Red and indicate the alerts for which they want to be contacted.

Council also gave final approval for new ward maps to allow for population shifts from the 2010 Census. The maps will be sent to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval. The new ward lines will not affect this year's city election.

Council tabled a proposal to amend the city ordinance governing the payment of per diem when members travel on official business. City Attorney Robert Mack said he could tweak the phrasing of the amended ordinance to accommodate concerns of council members. Ward 3 Representative Maudie McCord said she understands the need for a change.

";I agree there should be work done on this,"; she said. ";If we get money for breakfast, lunch and dinner but we don't eat breakfast, we have to bring that money back. There should be a set amount and we shouldn't have to bring any money back.";

Mack said the ordinance should be phrased to protect city officials and taxpayers.

";The whole purpose is you don't have to spend money for doing anything for the city,"; he said. ";Or be able to make any money from it either.";

City Manager John Parker agreed.

";In the past, there has not been definitely established guidelines on the record,"; said Parker. ";This will make it enforceable and clear up areas that had been gray.";

Council voted unanimously to continue participation in the Atlanta Regional Commission's Livable Centers Initiative. The vote confirms the city's commitment to the implementation of two projects in the 5-year action plan. Forest Park Management Analyst Angela Redding said the city's top project is an underground parking deck. The other project is a local transit bus system providing transportation among Ft. Gillem, Main Street and the Farmer's Market.

Under the ARC initiative, Forest Park could get 80 percent of the funding for those projects from a state grant. Parker said if the city can get help paying for the parking deck, there could be enough revenue from sales tax to fund a much-needed stadium.