The Associated Press

June 5, 2002

Kokomo’s mysterious hum has caught the ear of a national lobbying organization dedicated to reducing noise pollution.

Noise Free America has selected the city to receive its June “Noisy Dozen” award, granted to cities nationwide that tolerate or permit and unacceptable and potentially harmful level of noise, said Ted Rueter, executive director of the lobby group.

“We are trying to mobilize activists throughout the country,” Rueter said. “We would like people to feel more free to speak up about noise.”

It is the first time Noise Free America has presented the award to a city because of low-frequency noise, Rueter said. Boom car stereos, rowdy nightlife, low-flying airplanes, and barking dogs have earned other cities the distinction.

Kokomo was chosen after several local residents nominated the city for the award, Rueter said.

One of the residents, Kathie Sickles, said Noise Free America contacted her after they heard about the Kokomo hum through The Associated Press and other media reports.

As many as 90 people in this industrial, central Indiana city of about 47,000 have complained about a low-frequency him over the past three years, City Attorney Ken Ferries said.

While most residents don’t hear a thing, beyond the typical sounds of the city’s factories and busy roads, the City Council approved a $100,000 study of the mysterious noise, often described as the constant idle of a tractor trailer’s diesel engine.

Ferries is developing a request for proposals, a first step toward hiring someone to do the study.

The request for proposals could ge before the Board of Works within the next several weeks, said Ferries.

Sickles, who blames the hum for health problems. hopes the Noisy Dozen award might encourage more local residents to either notice the hum sound or to come forward if they are sick because of it.

“This community needs to know that there are other people out there that know about this,” Sickles said. “There are organizations that recognize and are willing to help communities fight their problems.”

But Kokomo city leaders contacted Tuesday by The Kokomo Tribune said they knew nothing about Noise Free America or its Noisy Dozen award.

“We don’t even know that they’re credible,” said Mayor Jim Trobaugh. “Unless those people have been here, unless they’ve heard the noise, unless they’ve interviewed people here, I wouldn’t think there’s any credibility to it at all.”