The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 2, 2013

Avilla School District to add tornado safe room

By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer

AVILLA, Mo. — A 1,600-square-foot safe room for Avilla students and nearby residents could be done in six to eight months, said Scott Blake, superintendent of the Avilla School District, which serves students east of Carthage.

The project is expected to cost $600,000, with $450,000 covered by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant. The remainder will be paid by the district’s reserve funds, Blake said.

The district’s application for funding for the project was approved in December, and district officials reviewed plans with community residents last month.

“We’re all very excited about it, and we think people in the community are, too,” Blake said.

The district plans to use the shelter as a cafeteria. It will be attached to the gymnasium at the south side of the school building. Still under discussion, Blake said, is whether a new kitchen will be built as part of the project.

The shelter will have a capacity for 314 people — a number arrived at in a study by a Springfield firm that helped the district with the grant application.

“They use a formula to look at the community within a half-mile to determine the daytime and nighttime population, then come up with an average,” he said.

Blake said it took district officials nearly a year to work through the grant process.

An architect and an engineer have been selected, but no building contractor has been hired.

“The next step is to get the site surveyed and get the 9school) board to approve the design,” he said. “We’ll send it to FEMA and SEMA (Missouri’s State Emergency Management Agency). Once we get their approval, we can go out for bids.”

Officials believe the project should be complete in six to eight months.

Avilla profile

The Avilla School District serves 176 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Students beyond eighth grade attend Carthage High School.