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Tri-County area goes back to Blackboard Connect for emergency notifications

The method of notifying residents of emergencies and other pertinent information is changing back to Blackboard Connect but users won’t see a change.

The South East Texas Regional Planning Commission administers the program for the tri-county area of Jefferson, Hardin and Orange counties, and public safety officials are the ones who send the info. The area used Blackboard Connect as a means of mass communication for a number of years and from 2017 to 2019 it switched to Swift Response.

Now it’s switching back.

Nederland Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Sparks explained the importance of signing up for the alerts.

“In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, such as some kind of explosion or local gas leak in a neighborhood, we are able to reach out to people, let them know if they need to shelter inside their homes,” Sparks said.

“Social media can be awesome and in some cases, not. You want to make sure the information is factual and is from emergency first responders.”

Funding for the mass communication program comes though a Homeland Security grant at 75 percent with local industry pitching in the remaining 25 percent.

Sue Landry, director of criminal justice and homeland security with SETRPC, said this is a transparent switch that users won’t notice. And it’s also a good time to register if you haven’t already done so or if you changed cell phone numbers.

You can register by calling 1-844-578-STAN or visiting the Southeast Texas Alerting Network website, thestan.com.