Minden siren will sound 6 p.m. today | RecordCourier.com
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Minden siren will sound 6 p.m. today

by Sheila Gardner

The Minden siren, silenced for two months while officials and townspeople debated its purpose in 21st century Carson Valley, is expected resume its noon and 6 p.m. schedule today, in time for Veterans Day.

Officials hoped to test the 6 p.m. alert on Thursday.

“We’re trying to time it with Veterans Day,” said county Communications Director Dick Mirgon. “We’re going to start it tonight (Thursday).”

He said County Manager Dan Holler suggested the timing.

“It’s supposed to be in honor of community service and volunteers and firefighters. It was close to Veterans Day and Dan said, ‘Why not choose it?'”

The county turned off the siren – which sounded at noon and 6 p.m. for decades – two months ago at the request of the Washoe Tribe.

The siren was the traditional method of alerting volunteers to emergency needs, but for the Washoe Tribe, it was a symbol of racism.

The tribe associated the siren with a 1917 Douglas County ordinance that required all Indians to be out of Minden and Gardnerville by 6:30 p.m.

That measure was repealed in 1974 and Holler turned the siren off in September in deference to the tribe.

That decision, in turn, drew criticism from Carson Valley residents who missed the siren and objected to the way it was silenced.

For many, the siren signaled lunch and dinner time, a reminder of the Valley’s agricultural roots.

The Minden Town Board offered in October to take over operation and maintenance of the siren, but county commissioners said at their Nov. 2 meeting the county would operate the signal and restore the daily noon and 6 p.m. alarms.

The town board had proposed that the siren be dedicated to the tradition of volunteerism and agriculture in the Carson Valley.

Retired engineer and Minden resident Roger Harker said he was available if the siren needed to be updated or repaired. Earlier, he offered to design a new siren that would be accurate to the second.

He said Wednesday he was pleased the noon siren was on time.

“It could use a good review,” Harker said Wednesday. “We want to make sure it’s good, safe, reliable and accurate.”

Mirgon said the county recently replaced the electronics and had resolved the issue of accessibility.

“The equipment that caused the siren to go on and off was at the phone company,” Mirgon said.

“We had no access and phone company employees who knew its operation left long ago. We had issues tantamount to impossible to get resolved.”

But now the county has installed new equipment to control when the siren goes off.