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March 13, 2013

City council gives nod to system upgrade

NORMAN — Kids playing rec sports in city parks will be a little bit safer during stormy weather in the future.

The Norman City Council approved a $70,665 purchase from WXLINE for new lightning detection systems for Griffin, Reaves and Westwood parks.

Parks Director Jud Foster told city council members that replacing parts on the existing systems had become difficult because of the age of those systems.

Council members approved funding in this year’s budget for the replacement of current lightning detection and warning systems installed in 2000 at the parks, according to city staff notes. These systems monitor atmospheric conditions and automatically sound warnings when storm conditions become unsafe. The old systems had become unreliable and obsolete.

“During any given athletic season, there are hundreds of people at these parks, out in the open,” according to staff notes.

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, lightning can strike up to 10 miles from a thunderstorm.

“All thunderstorms produce lightning, and each lightning strike is a potential killer,” said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service, in a press release issued to Little League.

NOAA said that about 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur in the United States each year. According to U.S. Youth Soccer, about 400 children and adults in the U.S. are struck by lightning annually.

Requests for proposals and other research indicates that the WXLINE proposal is the lowest cost available.

Council members also approved $53,580 to provide fleet management service analysis.

Norman owns and operates a fleet of 855 vehicles and equipment, with an annual operating cost of $5 million, according to city staff reports. The average fleet age is 9.9 years, and fewer than 30 vehicles are being replaced each year. An internal management audit indicated that the service analysis will provide vital information on what the most cost-effective options will be for the future of Norman’s fleet management.

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