Sunday, June 13, 2021

NEW Outdoor Warning Siren Increases Warning Coverage Across Southlake

The Southlake Office of Emergency Management recently installed a new Outdoor Warning Siren (OWS) at Southlake DPS North Training Center at 100 East Dove Road to increase emergency warning coverage across Southlake. With a vital location near North Park, one of Southlake’s most frequented community parks, the newly added siren benefits both park visitors and area residents.

As explained in an NBC5 news story, Outdoor Warning Sirens in North Texas alert the public to take shelter indoors and seek additional information about the cause of the warning. In Southlake, sirens are only activated in the following conditions:

  1. A tornado warning has been issued by the National Weather Service
  2. Tornado or funnel cloud has been reported by trained SKYWARN storm spotters
  3. Sustained winds are in excess of 70 miles per hour
  4. Reports have been given of hail larger than 1.25 inches
  5. Other life-threatening conditions

Outdoor Warning Siren interior photo for MSN

The newly installed Outdoor Warning Siren at DPS North Training Center increases Southlake’s total sirens to six integral locations across the city, including Bob Jones Park, DPS West Facility, Bicentennial Park, DPS Headquarters Facility, and Public Works Facility. The City of Southlake tests all of its Outdoor Warning Sirens on the first Wednesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. If conditions are favorable for severe weather on a test day, the tests are not conducted.

“Having six sirens for coverage of the Southlake area is important, however, the real key is the educational piece. Residents and visitors need to know what to do if they hear the sirens sounding, and that is to immediately go inside and seek more information from a reputable source,” stated Amanda Meneses, the emergency management specialist at the City of Southlake.

If you have questions or concerns, contact the Southlake Office of Emergency Management at OEM@ci.southlake.tx.us or call 817-748-8903.

Four North Texas PR Friends Help Moore Recover

TSPRA_Award

TSPRA president Patti Pawlik-Perales (far left) awards (left to right) Little Elm’s Julie Zwahr, Coppell’s Tamerah Ringo and Carroll’s Julie Thannum with the President’s Award for Outstanding Service by the Texas Public School Relations Association. Angela Shelley of Carrollton-Farmers Branch is not pictured.

Four good friends and peers packed their bags and drove north last May to start Memorial Day weekend.

It was a trip that forever changed their lives and many others, earning them the President’s Award for Outstanding Service by the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA).

The school communication veterans from North Texas, long trained in helping their respective own districts, rallied to the aid of one outside the state.

Julie Zwahr of Little Elm ISD, Angela Shelley of Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Julie Thannum of Carroll ISD and Tamerah Ringo of Coppell ISD joined forces to help Moore Public Schools following the devastation left by an EF5 tornado. The tornado ripped through the town, killing 24 and left the school district decimated by family tragedies and destruction of school buildings.

Moore PS, which did not have an employee dedicated to school communications, needed help. It needed a plan. It needed support. The North Texas team arrived five days after the tornado hit Moore, which is located 10 miles south of Oklahoma City.

The experience and selfless act of kindness and compassion by these four women helped ease some of the communication stress and workload as they joined forces with members of the Oklahoma School Public Relations Association (OKSPRA) and other members of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).

Zwahr, Shelley, Thannum and Ringo provided their helping hands and years of experience handling tragedies in their districts. Because of this compassion, helpfulness and dedication, TSPRA president Patti Pawlik-Perales honored them with the award at this year’s conference in Austin.

“School communications professionals are wired to respond in times of need – no matter the situation,” Zwahr said. “Traveling to Moore, Okla. and assisting OKSPRA was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve had in my career, and getting to experience it alongside three of my peers made it even more rewarding.”

They assisted OKSPRA and the NSPRA teams at the command center for Moore PS. Zwahr, Shelley, Thannum and Ringo came to the aid of school employees, giving them needed breaks to help deal with their own losses.

Crafting daily messages for the superintendent, prepping her remarks for her speech at graduation, facilitating interviews with reporters, documenting the clean up as the National Guard arrived, monitoring social media during a community –wide prayer service and Presidential visit, holding a daily press briefing to continue the Moore PS story of recovery were all part of their duties during the five days. Dispelling misinformation that comes during a crisis became routine.

“In my mind we were more blessed by the experience and came away with a greater appreciation for the resiliency of public educators and the community of Moore,” Thannum said. “They are true heroes in my book and I’m humbled by the honor of helping them in my own small way. I am especially proud of their Administrative and School Board leadership team for hiring a full-time school communications professional for MPS. I continue to follow news of their recovery as they rebuild and commit themselves to serving the children of Moore. They are an inspiration.”

The TSPRAns worked out of a school library and helped communicate by monitoring social media sites, developing electronic newsletters and press conferences.

“Working alongside fellow TSPRA members in Moore, Oklahoma was life –changing,” Shelley said. “I am humbled to receive the TSPRA President’s award but more importantly, I am honored to serve the public school students across Texas and our nation with my TSPRA colleagues and friends.”

Also, the team took pictures to help document the horrific destruction at Briarwood Elementary and Plaza Towers Elementary. Both schools were beyond repair and were eventually demolished.

The impact of the trip will be memorable for those who offered help in Moore’s time of need.

“The President’s Award was an amazing gesture of affirmation and encouragement for a time that forever changed the lens through which I view my job, myself, my world,” Ringo said.

Pascual Gonzalez, Executive Director of Communications at Northside ISD in San Antonio, presented the award at the luncheon.

“Certainly what these school PR pros did was an act of kindness and courage,” Gonzalez said. “They saw a need. They were compelled to act and they did. They represent the best of TSPRA.”