Commissioners restore Minden siren

After being suspended for two months, residents of the town of Minden will once again hear their siren, promptly at noon and 6 p.m. daily.

In the name of honoring Douglas County volunteers, county commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance Thursday that restores the historic siren, a fixture in Minden since the 1920s.

"I'm glad it is going back on," Minden Town Board Chairman Ross Chichester said Friday. "It was never associated with the ordinance applicable in Gardnerville. I think it will make a lot of people in the town of Minden very, very happy that it didn't go away."

The siren was a traditional means of alerting volunteers to community need, but for others, it is a symbol of racism enacted into past law.

Members of the Washoe Tribe connect the 6 p.m. siren with a Douglas County ordinance enacted in 1917, requiring all Indians to be out of Minden and Gardnerville by 6:30 p.m.

The measure wasn't officially repealed until 1974 and County Manager Dan Holler turned the siren off in September in deference to the Washoe Tribe.

It was a move that drew a significant amount of criticism from Minden residents, who sorely missed their siren.

Holler said county officials will be working with the town of Minden and other local organizations, like the East Fork Fire Department, to establish a permanent commemorative plaque at the siren site.

County officials said they were willing to assume responsibility for the siren, but noted that it is old and might eventually need replacing.

"It may not be as loud, or it may be different in the future," said Commissioner Doug Johnson.

"If the siren sound is modified at all, the town of Minden will be more than happy and interested in assuming responsibility so the tradition is maintained," said minden town attorney George Keele.

No date has been set for re-establishing the siren, but Assistant County Manager Lisa Granahan said it should be sounding very soon.

The Minden Town Board is set to discuss the siren at a special meeting at 7 a.m. Wednesday in the town offices, when town counsel George Keele will give a report on the commissioners' action.

n Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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