Purdy’s FEMA building serving as new event center

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Chancellor: ‘Something like this could be huge for Purdy’

Newly built, the Purdy schools district’s FEMA building has the potential to offer more than a storm shelter.

Steven Chancellor, Purdy superintendent, said the Purdy FEMA building was used for a concert open to the public.

“This was the first non-school group that has leased the building,” he said. “When they first asked us if they could rent it, they said they didn’t need much, just the building to play in.”

Chancellor said then there was a discussion on if they should charge a fee or not.

“I asked around to get some ideas on what other places do,” he said. “We had the first idea to build this building 6-1/2 years ago.”

Chancellor said one of the things that was talked about was that the school could build a building as a district that could be used for a number of different things.

“It could serve the community by being a facility available for the public to use,” he said. “It could be a way of drawing people into Purdy.”

Chancellor said the concert was the first time of that really happening.

“I was so excited about it, because that was what our vision was,” he said. “More than 750 people, most of which are not from Purdy, came together for one night and used our facility to connect.”

Chancellor said something like this could be huge for Purdy as a community.

“It can be a destination for something now,” he said. “The idea that someone in Arkansas, West Plains or wherever said, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to go to Purdy and watch this concert.’”

Chancellor said that is the conversation he believes is huge for the community.

“The building has a little more than 600 fixed seats, and during the concert we brought in more seating for people,” he said. “As a storm shelter, it can hold 1,100 people.”

Chancellor said the building was opened in December 2018, and the winter concert was the first event held in it.

“I think graduation will be too big of an event to hold in the FEMA building,” he said. “We have our cym configured to hold 1,100 people for graduation comfortably.”

Chancellor said baccalaureate will be in the new FEMA building.

“Another thing about the concert, when it was over, there was hardly any trash in the building, even though there were more than 700 people there,” he said. “The respect of the people understanding the school provided that facility and that they weren’t going to trash it was great.”

Chancellor said there was a custodian there because they weren’t sure what to expect.

“I’m glad we did because we weren’t expecting 750 people so we were replacing paper towels and toilet paper,” he said. “That is the customer service aspect of it. We don’t want to make money off of this, but at the same time we have to be able to pay for the accommodations.”

Chancellor said during the concert, people went through four boxes of paper towels.

“Let’s say it costs $30 per box, that will really start to add up over the year with multiple events,” he said. “We haven’t actually sat down and drawn up a rental agreement yet, but that will be something that we will do.”

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