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District examines plan to build storm shelter

Gary Barbee, of Springfield-based Sam Winn & Associates, addressed the Richmond Board of Education Tuesday evening, Dec. 9, regarding the tornado safe multi-purpose building to be added to Dear Elementary.
The district received a FEMA-sponsored grant that will pay 75 percent of the approximately $800,000 required to build the gymnasium-sized structure. The remaining 25 percent, or approximately $200,000 must come from the district.
Barbee quoted a more specific overall cost of $785,500 for the structure at the board meeting. Seventy-five percent of that, the portion FEMA will cover, equals $589,125 and FEMA will not cover any amount beyond that. The district’s share, 25 percent, will be $196,375. However, this amount does not include a brick veneer exterior that the rest of Dear campus has. An additional $40,000 would be required for the building to be bricked to match. The cost could be cut down if the board decides to go with a split face material.
“The existing facility (Dear Elementary) is all brick. FEMA will not accept the cost of the brick. They only look at the structural part of the building,” said Barbee. “It amounts to $151 per square foot for the new structure.”
Concern was also voiced about the type of brick used. Chris Minnick, board president asked, “Will the brick have iron in it?” Barbee stated there would not be a high amount of iron in the brick. Minnick reminded the board about the problems with iron in the bricks at Sunrise Elementary, causing discoloration.
Board members Steve Rittmiller and Dr. Brad Richey expressed their preference that the brick on the new building should match the rest of the campus.
Board President Chris Minnick confirmed, “Basically, we’re getting an $800,000 building for $200,000.”
Superintendent Jim Robins described the room as “primarily a tornado shelter for Dear students and the surrounding community residents in times of severe weather.” The structure will be built to handle 250 m.p.h. winds. It will have the capacity to house approximately 849 people in the event of an emergency, and can be “accessed by this amount of people within a five minute period of time as the grant stipulates.”
FEMA intends for these safe rooms to also be multi-purpose buildings. School assemblies, physical education classes and indoor recesses, as well as the possibility of the early childhood education program, are some of the planned uses.
Barbee indicated he hopes to have two architectural proposals sent to FEMA for approval by the end of January. He said they should be back by March. If that happens, construction should begin one month later and must be completed by March 2011.
Photo: Gary Barbee, of Winn & Associates, shows one of the plans he has drawn for the FEMA tornado shelter/multi-purpose room to the Richmond R-XVI School Board at the Tuesday, Dec. 9 monthly meeting. If all goes as planned, construction could begin as early as April 2009. (Photo by Brenda Jensen/The Daily News)

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