On April 12, the Cassville R-4 School Board discussed design options for the emergency shelter facility that will be constructed on the school campus using a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant.
"Both of the designs presented to the board are very aesthetically pleasing," said Superintendent Richard Asbill. "The main difference between Option A and Option B are the lobby areas.
"The board is evaluating the sizes and how they will fit into emergency plans for students coming from the intermediate and middle schools. The primary thing is how fast we can get students into that facility in an emergency."
Both plans call for the construction of a 8,500-square-foot FEMA safe room with restrooms, storage and a large multipurpose area. Option A adds an additional 846 square feet and Option B adds 1,456 square feet for a lobby. Both lobbies will be located on the south side of the new facility.
Option A plans offer two sets of double door entryways at the southwest and southeast portions of the lobby. Option B plans offer a double door entryway on the south side of the lobby and another double door entryway on the east side of the lobby.
Asbill said that both plans offer benefits to the district. Option A would likely allow faculty members to move students into the building more quickly. Option B would provide more lobby space for the facility.
"We are not constructing just a general purpose building," said Asbill. "This facility will primarily be for the safety of our students and other children in the community. We must provide for those functions first, including how to get people into the facility as quickly as possible."
The two designs also offer options regarding the steps and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps that will be located on the outside of the building.
"The benefit of the FEMA building for us, beyond the safety of three-quarters of our students and community members within a certain radius of the facility, is that we will receive a specific area designed for multipurpose use," said Asbill. "We won't have to displace our physical education and health classes for gymnasium use."
Asbill said the new facility will be used for instrumental and vocal music programs, drama productions and other events. The facility, like all Cassville School District buildings, will also be available to rent for community events.
"Right now, the design includes seating for 625," said Asbill. "We are shooting for seating for 700 to 750 individuals. The facility will accommodate a lot more people as a tornado shelter."
The facility will offer a portable stage. The building will also be equipped with its own generator.
"The board has made no decisions on the layout of the facility," said Asbill. "Right now they are just looking at the lobby piece. They hope to wrap up the plan design phase within the next two weeks."
The district is currently seeking demolition bids for the old middle school field house. The new emergency shelter will be constructed where the old field house is now located, to the west of the football stadium.
"Construction is still several months out," said Asbill. "Our goal is to begin construction in September, but we are not committed to that."
The design plans call for the inclusion of a breeze way between the new facility and the existing maintenance building. The breeze way will allow the building to be accessed from all sides.
"We are very excited about the facility and what it will provide to the district," said Asbill. "We would be very interested in talking with groups or individuals who are interested in assisting with the sound system or lighting system for future performances in the facility."
The FEMA grant will provide the district with $1,518,399 in funding for the project. The grant requires a 25 percent match, which means the district will be responsible for $380,000 in project costs.
"We have estimated that we will have $250,000 in non-FEMA costs associated with the project," said Asbill. "That will include the demolition of the old field house, finishing the multipurpose area and the construction of the lobby area.
"We will be pursuing funding and looking to the community for assistance with those additional costs," said Asbill. "We will likely be doing some fundraising."
The district will also be required to purchase sound curtains, acoustical panels and other equipment to finish the facility.
The Cassville School District received approval for the FEMA grant in February. The district applied for the grant funding in 2010 prior to when the tornado impacted Joplin in May of 2011.