Progress on Wheaton FEMA shelter may save money

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Cost-share may mean Wheaton only pays $214,000

Back in 2016, Wheaton tax payers approved a $1 million bond issue for a new FEMA shelter.

The bond issue, in conjunction with FEMA dollars, would be used to build a shelter area for the Wheaton school district.

The original intention was to build a practice facility or gymnasium that would replace the current gymnasium. However, the district would have to complete the project in phases.

After the 2019 tornado that hit the Wheaton area, former Superintendent Lance Massey said the district was lucky to have not been hit.

A FEMA shelter in the area would be able to be utilized in a similar situation by students and residents.

The closest safe rooms to the district are in Cassville, Purdy, East Newton and Stella.

Trish Wilson, Wheaton superintendent, said in the past, the district had submitted a Notice of Interest (NOI) to SEMA for funds for a FEMA Safe Room.

“Because we had submitted an NOI in the past and because there is a new FEMA grant available that Wheaton qualifies for, we were contacted to see if the district would be interested and if we would have the funds for our portion of the grant,” she said. “On Oct. 8, we were notified from SEMA that we were selected to submit a BRIC (Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities) Saferoom application.”

These applications are due to FEMA on or before  Dec. 1.

“The district has selected Toth and Associates as our Grant Manager for application development and grant management contingent upon award of the grant and Paragon Architecture for grant application assistance, design, construction documents and construction administration services contingent upon award of the grant,” Wilson said. “The BRIC grant is for small impoverished communities that qualify, and the cost share is 90/10.”

This means 90 percent [of the project will be] paid by the federal government and 10 percent paid by the district.

“Preliminary numbers for us are approximately a 7,140-square-foot safe area, with federal government share at $2,142,000 and district share at $214,200,” she said. “These are preliminary numbers. With the bond issue that passed in 2016 the district has a great opportunity to look at some different options and address some spacing needs.”

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