WEBB CITY, Mo. —
Officials at Crowder College received word Wednesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the college can move forward with a tornado safe room at its Webb City location.
FEMA will pay $1.1 million toward the cost of the 8,700-square-foot structure, with Crowder picking up the remaining $383,000. Crowder plans to expand the project to include additional parking, a non-FEMA addition and some renovation work at the existing building
The safe room portion of the building will hold 1,375 people, including students, staff members and residents who live within a half-mile radius of the campus on South Ellis Street.
Cyndi Adamson, director of Crowder’s Webb City campus, said the structure will serve a dual purpose as the school has outgrown its current buildings.
Enrollment has increased from 20 students 12 years ago to 823 today. Some of the classrooms are converted from closets or offices.
On Wednesday, Adamson expressed excitement about the structure becoming a reality.
“I’m so excited because not only will we have safe shelter for students, staff and the community, but we can add much-needed classrooms,” she said.
The estimated timeline has the first phase of construction beginning in September, with construction on phase two to begin in the spring of 2013. Renovation of the existing building is to begin when phase two is complete. Crowder officials will obtain more details at a meeting June 13 in Jefferson City.
“We are delighted to have FEMA grant approval so we can move forward with critical needs in Webb City,” Crowder College President Alan Marble said in a news release.
Designs for each phase of the project must be submitted and approved by FEMA and the State Emergency Management Agency for release of the funding. The Crowder administration is working with Paragon Architecture Inc., a Springfield firm that has assisted about 20 school districts in the region with grant applications to FEMA for tornado safe room funding.
The firm’s clients include Fair Grove, East Newton, McDonald County and Neosho schools.
Earlier this spring, Don Melton, Webb City’s emergency management director, said a large shelter on the Crowder campus would be welcome news.
“I think it will be beneficial to the community to have a sizable shelter in that area, farther away from the public library, which is currently our only shelter we open,” he said.
A STORM SHELTER similar to what will be built in Webb City opened in January 2011 on Crowder College’s main campus in Neosho. It is part of Davidson Hall, which houses the health and science programs, and biology and chemistry labs. The shelter, paid for with $2.18 million in FEMA funding, was designed to protect 3,000 people from winds of 250 mph.