Forrest Co. storm shelter plans moving forward - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Forrest Co. storm shelter plans moving forward

Plans for a safe room/storm shelter that will be located at the Dixie Attendance center were a topic of discussion for the Forrest County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. (Photo source: Forrest County Board) Plans for a safe room/storm shelter that will be located at the Dixie Attendance center were a topic of discussion for the Forrest County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. (Photo source: Forrest County Board)
FORREST COUNTY (WDAM) -

Plans for a safe room/storm shelter that will be located at the Dixie Attendance center were a topic of discussion for the Forrest County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

During their meeting, supervisors discussed the plans for the 12 total shelters to be placed in multiple school districts around Forrest County. 

“There’s actually three different grants that have been approved for phase one,"  said Forrest County Board President David Hogan. "One for Dixie, one for Forrest County Agricultural High School and then the third includes 10 schools, the Forrest County School District and the Petal School District schools.”

The first project is already in the works will be located at the Dixie Attendance Center, which is moving into phase two.

“Dixie was the first that we got approved for when we initially applied for the grant, so they’re a little bit ahead of the others,” Hogan said. “It's projected to go to about $1.2 million, 90 percent provided by a FEMA grant and 10 percent provided by matching funds, and the school district will be participating in those matching funds.”

Forrest County School District Superintendent Brian Freeman said they already have the money allotted to help with the grant match.

“This will be a big plus, providing safety for our children, which is our number one concern anyway,” said Freeman. “We have made sure that we have got our 10 percent match to the side based on projections, but of course once the bids come in, we’ll be a little more sure of what our cost is going to be. But I don’t think that you can put a cost on the safety.”

Petal superintendent Matt Dillon said his district is looking to get five of those shelters.

“We’re looking to get five storm shelters within the Petal School District, so we’ll have one at every building,” said Dillon. “The way that it is designed, is to hold all faculty, staff and students and so that’s important that we’re able to provide that safe environment, when we have a potential weather threats and have that right there locally on every one of our campuses will be very helpful.”

Dillon and other superintendents from around Forrest County attended the regularly scheduled meeting for an update on the shelters.

“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time now, and we’re trying to get some more answers and more information,” said Dillon.

The board and supervisors were briefed on the current status of the phase two in Dixie, as well as the future plans of the project by a Broaddus & Associates representative.

“As of right now, it is sitting in Washington waiting for our final approval and then from there it will go to bids, whenever we get that final approval and then we can start that process,” said Dillon.

One catch of the shelters, according to the grants, is they have to be a multi-purpose use facility, but superintendents said would not be an issue.

“When we’re not using it for weather, we’re able to use it for multipurpose use," Dillon said. "So that will be a big advantage for our district as well."

“With recent tornadoes in our area, it’s certainly something that our parents can always feel very very safe that we’re going to be able to put all of their children in this tornado safe room along with our faculty and staff,” said Freeman.

The bids for the construction of the Dixie Attendance Center facility will be advertised in the coming weeks according to supervisors.

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