The Ashland County Office Building is located at 110 Cottage St. in Ashland. Credit: Ashland Source File Art

ASHLAND — The Ashland County EMA plans on removing a tornado siren that has been on private property for decades and replacing it with a new one that will be installed atop a city-owned water tower. 

The tornado siren, which still works, has been on Sarver Paving Co.’s property along Masters Avenue for decades.

Sarver has also been paying for the electricity used to power the siren. 

It’s unclear how long the siren was part of Sarver’s property and how long the company had paid for it, but county commissioners said the siren could date back to World War II.

“We cannot have sirens on private property,” said Anne Strouth, the county’s EMA director.

Though the siren still works, Strouth said it utilizes outdated technology. Getting parts for the old siren is difficult and expensive. She said oil for the mechanical siren runs $150.

Commissioners approved a $28,370 quote from Vasu Communications to remove the sire and purchase a new one on Nov. 9. The new siren, which will be powered by solar panels, will be placed atop a water tower near Brookside Park.

Ashland County Commissioner Denny Bittle said he was approached by one of the construction company’s new owners, Mike Wurster. He said the owner wanted to build a driveway where the old siren stands.

“He said it didn’t bother him at all, just that he wanted that pole moved,” Bittle said. When asked how much Sarver has paid for the siren throughout the years, Bittle said he didn’t know. 

“It’s wired right to their building, so it was just going into (Sarver’s) meter and they paid for it on their monthly bill,” Bittle said. 

The Sarver property, located at 1208 Masters Ave., is adjacent to Edison Elementary School.

“So the school maybe owned it and sold it to Sarver at one point,” Bittle said. “We looked at the addresses for all the sirens and it showed it was on the school’s property. So the county thought it was on school property, according to our records.” 

Wurster, who bought the company in 2019, confirmed he’d like the siren to be moved for plans the company has in the future.

“Who knows when all that happened,” he said. “My assumption is that Sarver had been paying for it all these years. Nobody at the county knew, and nobody here was around years ago when this thing went in. Who knows how things were done back then.”

When asked how much the company had paid all these years, he said he doesn’t have a clue.

“I don’t even have a guess. It can’t be much, it doesn’t run that often,” Wurster said.

The siren is one of five the county plans on repairing or replacing in coming years. The EMA office requested $175,000 in state money in 2021 but didn’t receive it. 

In 2022, commissioners approved an $84,000 increase to the EMA’s budget, according to Nikki Hiller, the clerk of the commissioners’ office. That money was used to upgrade sirens with the state’s digital Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS).

The EMA’s budget for 2023 reflects a $116,000 increase for siren repair or replacement.

The four other sirens are located at the following locations: 

  • Ashland County Fairgrounds: 2042 Claremont Ave.
  • Ashland County Courthouse: 142 West Second St.
  • Dale Roy School: 1256 Center St.
  • Ruggles Township House: 1359 U.S. Route 224

Lead reporter for Ashland Source who happens to own more bikes than pairs of jeans. His coverage focuses on city and county government, and everything in between. He lives in Mansfield with his wife and...