FEMA grants more money to Miller for storm shelter

Kaleena Ricketts

Now that the school has received word about the approval for the FEMA funding, plans are being honed to begin construction. The far southeast corner of the building is where the approved band/choir room, that will also double as the storm shelter, will be built. (Photo by Kaleena Ricketts)

Grant money near $1 million for new construction at high school
Last week, the Miller School District received some good news. After several months of waiting with very little information, school officials received word that they had been approved for funding for the FEMA shelter they had long been awaiting.
Plans are already set in motion for the upcoming addition that was approved back on April 3, 2018, but now that the FEMA funding for the storm shelter has been approved, plans have changed—slightly.
School officials were invited to Jefferson City to meet with government officials, and it’s there that, after being denied for the funding once, the district was now being named as one of three recipients of this federal funding.
Superintendent Dr. Dustin Storm was given official paperwork indicating the district is scheduled to be reimbursed for the shelter in the amount of approximately $924,750. This is an increase of $154,125. School officials originally expected $770,625.
Miller School District was one of three districts in Missouri being awarded the funding. The Sparta School District and the Neosho School District are also being given the funds to build a stand-alone storm shelter on each of their campuses.
 “We kept in contact with those making the decisions on who was to get the funding. Our thinking was if something opened up, we wanted to be considered. To my understanding, the money that was supposed to go down to Houston, Texas, to aid with the damage done by the major flooding, ended up not going there because somehow they didn’t have the matching funds, so then the money was released to Missouri since we did have the matching funds,” said Storm.
“We got the phone call in August saying we had been put back in the running and have been waiting ever since to receive notification that we had been approved. Our persistence and patience paid off I think.”
The district has already paired with Inside Design Architecture out of Kansas City. The firm is well versed in building storm shelters. They are the architects who worked with the Webb City School District to place their shelter, as well as several others throughout the state.
Per the grant, the district has until Aug. 9 of this year to finalize plans and get them approved by the school board. After that, they have to be sent to FEMA officials for their approval.
Storm has been told that plans can be approved as quickly as a week or two, or could possibly take up to six months. Once approved, the project can be taken to bid. Until approval, it’s a bit of a waiting game.
Once constructed, the shelter can house 519 individuals, capable of holding all the students and staff at the school, as well as residents within the immediate vicinity of the school.
“We feel that it will be a great asset to our students, as well as our community. We think it will meet our needs for a long, long time,” said Storm.
Alongside the shelter, the district will also begin construction on the approved addition to the high school, hopefully in the summer/fall of this year. Plans for construction include a new auxiliary gym, an expanded cafeteria that will enable the school to cut down on the amount of lunch shifts it currently has, and the band/choir room that will double as the storm shelter.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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