An outstanding collaborative effort among private, public and other entities has resulted in a new warning and notification siren that will aid in the ever present need to warn our citizens of impending weather, hazardous incidents or other events of an emergency nature.
Although their population may be fairly low, the Waskish and Kelliher communities of Beltrami County experience a lot of traffic and needs for services. Whether it be the winter ice fishing crowd, ATV, OHV and snowmobile owners riding trails, hikers out walking through the Big Bog Recreation Parks, the walleye fisherman and season opener or others staying at resorts or attending festivals, there is always something going on in the northeast region of our county. Add into that mix problems with flooding and high water on Upper Red Lake and the need for a good method of notifying citizens of emergencies was imperative.
To that end, a group of Waskish ladies informally known as "WOW," the Women of Waskish, have been working to obtain and install a warning siren that will fill the bill for notification. Karen Corcoran, who suggested and researched the idea and Patsy Petrowske, President of the Upper Red Lake Area Association worked with Beltrami County Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks who helped secure funding.
Through his resources in working with the PILT fund and other sources, Commissioner Fairbanks and Cocoran's husband, Joe, who has a history of securing grants, were successful in raising the needed funds for the project. Corcoran and Petrowske put hours of leg work into getting bids and identifying a location for the siren with help from the DNR Forestry division. Additional funding to pay for electrical work was donated by Waskish Township.
The group worked with the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office of Communications (who will actually activate the siren as needed) and Roger's Two Way Radio to complete the project.
On April 7 at 1 p.m. there will be a celebration of this new "tool in the emergency kit" at the Big Bog Interpretive Center, Big Bog State Park, located just north of the town of Waskish.
The warning siren will be activated remotely by dispatch in a ceremony to test the effectiveness of the emergency alert. A reception will follow at the Tall Tales Tavern located at Hillman's Resort, 55738 Hillman Dr. NE (mile marker 36) on Hwy. 72 NE, with food served by the Upper Red Lake Area Association.
Everyone is invited to come and join in this historic event that will undoubtedly save lives and be a terrific asset in this recreational "hotspot" in our county.