Rotary Club tours new FEMA shelter
Members of the Cassville Rotary Club toured the new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shelter at the Cassville elementary, intermediate and middle school campus last Wednesday.
The construction company of R.E. Smith, of Joplin, turned the newly completed facility over to the district the week of Aug. 19.
"The architect was on budget, on time and we are very pleased with the project," said Richard Asbill, superintendent of the Cassville R-4 District.
"FEMA builds a concrete box," Asbill went on to explain. "Everything else is what we've added. That includes the lobby, landscaping, flooring, heat and air systems and a storage building."
Asbill said the federal funds were not handed to the district as a "blank check."
"There were a lot of red strings attached," Asbill said. "But the district decided this project needed to be done for the safety of our children, staff and the community. Moore, Okla., and Joplin were two prime examples of why this facility was needed."
Asbill said the high school had also been approved to construct a FEMA-rated shelter for that campus.
"It will handle the student and teacher population as well as a portion of the immediate community," he said.
Asbill said the shelter would serve as a multi-purpose facility for the elementary through middle school campus.
"We are going to have a 40 by 40 portable stage for programs in here," Asbill said, "to accommodate large and small group performances. There is also a sound system and a light system that will be in place in about 30 days."
The first large event on the schedule is The Show, which runs on Thursday Oct. 24, Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27, and will feature HomeTown Sound and the RedHots, along with other local talent.
"We are very excited to host that event," Asbill said.
He went on to detail the features of the building, which include relocating critical services to the new facility in the event of a catastrophic storm.
"We've practiced evacuation drills and it took three minutes and 47 seconds to move 1,200 people into this facility," Asbill said. "With a five- to 10-minute warning, that offers peace of mind to our parents, grandparents and patrons. That is the key element: peace of mind."
The building is rated for high wind resistance and projectile impact during tornado events. School officials receive text alerts when conditions indicate a tornado is imminent, and the facility automatically unlocks to allow students, teachers and community members to seek shelter. The shelter has its own generator power and will accommodate 750 to 800 people during an evacuation.
"This is a phenomenal building," Asbill said. "We are proud of the facility."
Asbill said the board had made a commitment that the facility would be dedicated primarily to grade level programs.