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Lexington's new safety alert system activated

Lexington residents can sign up for a new public safety alert system that will call a land line or cell phone to notify them when emergencies happen in their area.

Lexington's Emergency Alerts and Notifications, or LEAN, was activated Thursday and will alert residents about events including highway chemical spills, severe weather or escaped convicts.

The system in no way affects the operation of 911. Nor does it replace neighborhood loudspeakers that alert people to approaching violent storms, or any other warning methods the city uses, Mayor Jim Newberry said; it simply provides local government one more way to notify the public quickly of a mishap.

The voice messages that people will receive will specify what the danger is, said David Lucas, director of 911. A telephone number will be called every five minutes until someone answers.

To receive notices via cell phone or computer phone, people need to register at and give their names, addresses and telephone numbers.

People with land lines inside Fayette County will automatically get the notices, with no need to register.

As long as the phone is tied to a specific address in Fayette County, the system can call an alert to that address, the mayor said.

People also may register to receive notices of emergencies at their work numbers, dorm rooms or schools.

The city's cost of the emergency notification service will be $40,000 a year, and it will be paid through the city's emergency 911 fee.