The Morgan County R-II School District is building an above-ground storm shelter/performing arts center with a matching funds grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a levy increase approved by voters in April.
The Morgan County R-II School District is building an above-ground storm shelter/performing arts center with a matching funds grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a levy increase approved by voters in April. The building will be a roughly 15,000 square foot EF5-tornado-rated shelter capable of holding up to 1,700 people as a storm shelter with auditorium seating for around 500-600. The total project cost has been estimated at approximately $4.5 million with the district's share being about $2.5 million.
School officials are moving forward with plans to build the new structure on the front side of the high school in Versailles after meeting with architects recently.
According to Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson, engineers have studied ground samples from locations around the campus and the topography this summer. With those considerations plus other factors such as the location of power lines, it was decided that the best construction spot would be in front of the high school, she said.
The other main site being considered was behind the middle school. The topography there was not as good and the spot has had flooding issues in addition to the main power currently coming in behind the elementary and middle schools.
There would have been significant expense to relocated the power lines underground, Ryerson said.
Preliminary drawings are now being done around the high school location. The main staff members who will be using the performing arts center are working on finalizing what they think the building needs as far as storage and dressing rooms.
As they move forward, school officials will be considering what is needed and what would just be nice to have as they weigh expense options related to the design and construction.
Ryerson said drawings should be ready to submit to FEMA by the end of September, putting the district on schedule. Through the grant program, the district has until November to get the design and drawings finalized and approved.
The project will be bid once the plans are approved by FEMA and the engineers have all signed off on it. The district will have 19 months to get the project completed.
The new facility should be ready to open in 2016.