Magnolia City Council members approved a proposal to utilize mass-notification system Blackboard Connect for future emergency use and outreach efforts in a March 10 council meeting.

According to Magnolia City Administrator Don Doering, the proposal will save the city an estimated $13,800 per year.

“In order to better communicate with our citizens in the time of need, the city secretary [Kandice Garrett] has done a great job at securing this proposal for a very reasonable price at under $3,000 per year,” he said.

Doering said the city currently pays approximately $1,400 per month to use its current company, Nixle, for mass communication with residents.

According to Chief of Police Kyle Montgomery—who was also appointed as the city’s emergency coordinator during the meeting—Nixle’s interface has also made it difficult to send out mass-communication messages during emergency situations.

“For me at least, the plus side to this is Nixle is not user-friendly,” Montgomery said. “It's really hard when most of the time when I'm sending out some kind of ... alert or some traffic issues, generally, I'm on the scene trying to help out, at the same time I'm trying to do this prehistoric [program].”

Doering said Blackboard Connect will serve as a more efficient platform to reach residents through emails and texts.

The change comes after a February winter storm left Texans across the state dealing with freezing temperatures and mass electrical outages. Due to a loss of water pressure in Magnolia amid the storm, a boil notice was issued to the city Feb. 16 and was lifted nine days later.