Casino revenue to help safety during storms

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - You've heard the siren sound letting you know a storm is coming, but what about the people who don't get the chance to hear the siren.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger said when they got the license for the casino, the city promised the Missouri Gaming Commission they would give 3 percent of the Isle of Capri Casino's revenue to surrounding neighbors such as Cape Girardeau County, Jackson, and Scott City.

This year, that money totals about $78,000.

Cape city leaders talked to those neighbors and decided to designate that money towards storm warning sirens.

When you hear the sound, you know a storm is coming.

But what about the people that don't get the chance to hear the siren?

"Basically you're on your own," said Mark Kasten, the Emergency Coordinator for Pocahontas.

Kasten said a siren in their area would help.

"We would love it, probably a single siren would cover our entire town," said Kasten.

As of now, Jackson, Cape Girardeau, and Scott City have a few sirens. But in all of Cape Girardeau County, outside city limits, there's only one siren.

Paul Koeper, a Cape Girardeau County Commissioner has been working on grant money for additional sirens in the county for a few years.

For 18 new sirens, the cost is about $400,000. A grant awarded the county about $300,000 if they matched the remaining $100,000.

"We wanted to make this a county project for local businesses, for anybody, organizations that would like to donate," said Koeper.

They've been working to raise money. And now with this additional money from the casino, the county has just about reached their goal.

"The projects going to go, it's going to go on with the money we've received right now," said Koeper.

Koeper said he wants the new sirens in place by next storm season, Spring 2014.

"It's just another element of warning the population of Cape Girardeau County of the pending bad weather," said Richard Knaup, the Emergency Coordinator for Cape Girardeau County.

Knaup said these types of warning signals can be crucial in bad weather.

"We're trying to build a redundant system so we can all back up each other if need be," said Knaup.

The city will give this money every year, so where will it go next year?

Rediger said they haven't designated that yet.

The Cape Girardeau city staff is drawing up an ordinance to designate this year's money to the sirens. While the council will vote on it next meeting, Rediger said it's "pretty much a done deal."

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