Archive for Wednesday, August 5, 2009

School district gains $3.4 million FEMA grant for safe room at auditorium

Dirt work for the construction of the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is underway. It was the largest portion of the $22.9 million school bond issue that was passed by voters last fall. It raised the Baldwin School District's mill levy 9 mills, which put the Baldwin City area in the upper level of mill levies for Douglas County.

Dirt work for the construction of the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center is underway. It was the largest portion of the $22.9 million school bond issue that was passed by voters last fall. It raised the Baldwin School District's mill levy 9 mills, which put the Baldwin City area in the upper level of mill levies for Douglas County.

August 5, 2009

Washington, D.C., smiled on the Baldwin School District this week to the tune of a $3.4 million grant to build another tornado-proof safe room.

“We got the big one,” said Supt. Paul Dorathy, who learned of the grant approval Wednesday. “This is for 1,800 people. The question was whether they were going to give us the grant for 1,500 or 1,800 people.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant paves the way to construct the new Performing Arts Center almost entirely as a safe room capable of withstanding an EF-5 tornado. The school district’s 25-percent match of $1.1 million will turn the 16,100-square foot building into a $4.5 million safe room. Voters had approved $3.1 million for the auditorium during November’s bond issue election.

“This has added a huge worth for the PAC because of what we’re able to put in it and have the safe room,” said Dorathy. “Basically, all but a little lobby out front will be a safe room.”

He said the building’s walls will consist of 2-foot-thick concrete panels that weigh 80 tons each. The roof will be reinforced concrete, too, but not that thick.

“It’ll be a place where if we ever have to face that, and I hope we don’t, we can survive a pretty severe tornado,” said Dorathy. “This is unbelievable. I feel good about this one.”

It also puts the project, which will be built between Baldwin High School and Baldwin Junior High School, back on track after it had been put on hold by the school board.

“This opens the way for the design team to move forward,” he said. “The board had said let’s wait until we see what happens with the grant.”

The project will likely go to bid in late September or early October, with a completion date of December 2010 or January 2011, he said.

“We won’t have an exact timeline until the design group has completed plans,” said Dorathy.

He also said the process went through several more channels than did the recently announced $450,000 FEMA grant for construction of a safe room at the new Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center.

“Because of the amount on this grant, it had to go through the state and area offices, and then went to Washington where it was approved,” said Dorathy. “A $3.4 million grant is a sizeable grant. It took a lot more hoops to jump through to get it.”

Terri Smith, director of Douglas County Emergency Management who has helped with both grant applications, was excited to hear about another success.

“I think it’s great that a community has taken the step to want this for the faculty and students,” said Smith. “Many times I wish people would go for it. It is a lot of work to go for these grants. But as long as there is money out there to match, people should do it.”

Comments

greyghost 4 years, 11 months ago

Baldwin just won out. Where's Torch?

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NanCrisp 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm hoping this means the taxpayers will save $2 million on this project. Or does the school district plan to spend that money anyway? If you tell a kid, "Here's a $20, only use what you need," you're not likely to get any money back. N'est-ce pas?

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BaldwinDad 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree....Nan, this is hilarious how they like to thing the money came from nowhere, it's not free money this is still my tax paying dollars being used personally it would be nice if they took the money and still built a smaller safe room.

I know, but the saftey of the children!!

Well, I would rather stop worry about what if's and deal with the problems we are having right now and use that money to give a tax credit back to the community so the family can afford to keep living here.

Another novel idea is to use that money to maybe expand the all day kindergarten program to more then 17 flipping kids...I mean what is the point of that?? When you are having a lottery to determine who gets into a program at school then you know we have issues with your educational system.

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uapinochet 4 years, 11 months ago

The safe "room" will hold 1,800 people, and not necessarily just for the "safety of the children". This is being built to help save lives in Baldwin and the surrounding areas. I'm thankful for it.

I totally agree with your issue with all day Kindergarten. Many of these four year old's are attending all day preschool, then they have to go to half day K. Makes no sense.

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