On August 16, City Manager Mike Podegracz called 17,069 phone numbers.


Podegracz's message, which was delivered to 14,995 Hesperia residences and 2,074 Hesperia businesses, was part of a test of the city's new Connect-CTY telephone alert system.


"Connect-CTY is a program put out by the NTI Group. They have a number of different systems, [including] one the school district already uses to notify parents," city spokeswoman Kim Summers said Thursday. "And they've just gotten into city governments and they approached the city."


The city of Hesperia plans to primarily use the new system in two ways.


Officials, including Podegracz and sheriff's department and fire department officials, will periodically send out priority messages


"They can send a message to every household in Hesperia in about an hour. It can be an evacuation order, it can be where to go in an evacuation," Summers said. It can be a suspect loose in your neighborhood, 'lock your doors, don't leave your house.' ... You can narrow it down to just residences or just businesses or you can map out geographic areas."


The city will also use it for community outreach, alerting residents of water service maintenance in their area, announcing special events like last fall's library grand opening, and similar non-emergency notifications. The system also has the ability to conduct surveys.


"Our goal is to use it sparingly so we don't bother people," Summers said.


The test earlier this month went well, with only a handful of residents calling in afterward with questions.


"It was very positive," Summers said. "We've gotten a lot of calls where people think it's a live person. ... I have not received a complaint, and to my knowledge, we have not gotten a complaint."


The system only alerts those with numbers associated with Hesperia addresses.


"So if people have unlisted numbers, they should go to the city Web site or call city hall," Summers said.


The system will also work with e-mail addresses.


"You work down the hill and you're ready to go home, and [Interstate 15 is] shut down because there's a fuel spill at the top of the pass, we can send out an e-mail."


Those with unlisted numbers who wish to be included in the city's Connect-CTY system can sign up by visiting CityofHesperia.us or by calling 947-1059.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.