Orion leaders worried about lack of severe weather sirens

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ORION, Illinois-- With severe weather season approaching, there are questions about who should be in charge of the storm sirens in Orion, Illinois.

For years, the Henry County Sheriff's Department set them off for the village from their headquarters in Cambridge, Illinois. But the button that triggers the siren is now broken. Henry County Sheriff James Padilla says the county sent out a letter to affected communities warning them of the malfunction.

But Orion Mayer Jim Cooper says he never received that letter. Mayor Cooper says he just found out on Tuesday afternoon that the sirens have been broken since July 2016, and that he is very frustrated he didn't know. He says there is a major lack of transparency between the county and the village of Orion.

According to the Henry County Sheriff's Department, there is another functioning trigger in Orion, but village officials say they do not have access to a trigger in town.

Orion residents say they had no idea the sirens weren't working, and they want to see the problem solved right away.

"It's a little worrisome. You want to make sure that everybody knows about the weather that's going on when there's inclement weather. You want to make sure everyone in town is safe and is fully aware. We have the resources, you want to make sure they're fully functioning," says Orion resident and owner of Maple Street Grille JR Greenwood.

Sheriff Padilla says the county has applied for grant money to go towards fixing the problem, but if it's granted, they won't get that money until May.

In the meantime, Mayor Cooper says the village is reallocating resources and is putting the volunteer fire department in charge of sounding the siren if severe weather comes.