Archive for Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Concerns may end PACs use as Baldwin City’s community storm shelter

The Performing Arts Center on the USD 348 high school/junior high campus may not be available this spring as a community storm shelter if the city and district can't resolve differences.

The Performing Arts Center on the USD 348 high school/junior high campus may not be available this spring as a community storm shelter if the city and district can't resolve differences.

January 24, 2012

On an active severe weather day last May that ended with tornado sirens sounding in Baldwin City as a funnel was sighted to the west, 65 residents sought shelter in USD 348’s new Performing Arts Center at Baldwin High School.

Because of unresolved issues between the district and the city of Baldwin City, the site might not be an option when the severe weather season returns this spring. An emergency management professional has identified numerous concerns regarding its use as a community shelter, foremost of which is whether continuing that practice could potentially put residents in harm.

Also central to the city and district’s differences are who would manage the site during severe weather outbreaks occurring during non-school hours, the jurisdictions’ liability and what party should pay for that management.

USD 348 Board of Education President Ande Parks told fellow board members Monday the city and district have not found a way to overcome issues associated with offering PAC as a community shelter.

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Teri Smith was invited to the board meeting to define those concerns.

But first, Smith explained the Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, which provided 75 percent of the $4.5 million needed to build a structure capable or withstanding an F-5 tornado, was awarded to provide a safe place for students, faculty and staff during severe weather and not for a community storm shelter.

Among the concerns Smith identified with offering a community shelter were:

• Liability should someone get hurt.

• Authorization to open and close of a shelter’s doors. Smith said FEMA rules associated with the grant dictate the doors be closed 10 minutes after a warning was issued. Determining the storm was over and the shelter was no longer needed would also be a judgment call, which might not satisfy some nervous people in the shelter, she said.

• Coordination of who is in charge in case of vacation.

• Student safety. Schools have safeguards to keep outsiders from walking into buildings, but opening the PAC to all comers during school hours could expose students to violent individuals or predators, Smith said.

• Pets. The desire of pet owners to bring their animals to shelters can be problematic, Smith said, citing an example in Montgomery County in which a pet snake shocked one shelter seeker enough to cause a heart attack.

Parks and Superintendent Paul Dorathy were among district representative who toured PAC last week toured with Baldwin City representatives that included Mayor Ken Wagner and City Administrator Chris Lowe. But, Parks said, the district failed reach agreement on the outstanding Lowe said Tuesday the district wanted the city to provide someone to open the shelter during non-school times. The city had reservations about such an arrangement from having talked to Smith and learning of her concerns, the city administrator said.

The city’s firefighters and policemen could possibly open the shelter, but they then would be on call to go elsewhere during a storm, Lowe said. Any city employee operating the shelter would have to have training, he said.

“It’s their facility; they need to tell us how it is to be ran,” Lowe said. “They need to indemnify the city for that.”

“If you are going to run a community shelter at that site, it has to be run under FEMA rules,” he said, citing the need to lock doors 10 minutes after a warning is issued. “Where it’s located, you could possibly be bringing people out of safety to get to that shelter.”

Despite the lack of agreement, he wanted city and district officials to meet again on the issue, Parks said. If nothing could be worked out, both the city and the district needed to communicate to the public the PAC was no longer an available shelter.

Board member Sandy Chapman said if no agreement could be reached with the city, the district might work to find other solutions, possibly involving the city’s churches.

Comments

notmyname 2 years, 8 months ago

are you kidding me if we had such a bad storm isn't the idea for EVERYONE in the city to be safe? Gee I am sorry you are not a student here go away? Can't we all get along during a time of disaster?

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Julie Craig 2 years, 8 months ago

We spend millions of dollars on constructing a safe shelter that will hold over a thousand people in a tornado and then the District says it's too much trouble to figure out the details???? While I understand it is not an easy proposition, I think that we should damn well figure it out. Let's work together.

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Bakerboy25 2 years, 8 months ago

Why were these questions not asked when we took the money, this is why our school district is where it is today no planning. This is sad but not surprising, when someone gives you 4.5 million dollars you are expected to give a little back. The district needs to step up and take care of this, they took the money they should take care of the people period. What are we talking about 25 hours of OT per year or 4.5 million dollars tough choice.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 8 months ago

Keep in mind that thanks to Paul's wanton waste and mismanagement they don't have even two extra nickels to rub together in their operating fund.

So while they can't find it in their pocketbook or hearts to protect the citizens of Baldwin during a storm, they can air condition empty buildings in July and dump nearly 2 million gallons of water on the ground.

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BaldwinDad 2 years, 7 months ago

LoL....I think someone wants to see what a sledgehammer will do to a door lock....

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Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

In reality, there are no background checks for people entering the concerts or ballgames. This must be about dog scat on the carpet or unwillingness to pay someone for a few hours of time.

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Bloggerboo 2 years, 7 months ago

How quick you all are to jump on the "evil" school district administrators. First of all, try some reading comprehension techniques to hone your understanding of said situation. FEMA paid us 75% of the 4.5 million it cost to build the PAC. So, the cost to BC residents via the district was only $1.125 million, which came out of the bond issue funds only.

Next, the district never once promised that this would be a community safe haven during inclement weather, but rather it would be available to students, faculty, and staff should bad weather occur during school hours.

Finally, it takes two to disagree, so while you are quick to blame the district, it sounds like the city administrators aren't exactly bending over backward to get something worked out.

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hyperinflate 2 years, 7 months ago

Valued Reader,

Please keep in mind that BB is a former school board president under whose watch the giant sucking sound of a massive debt burden to Baldwin originated. There was never a stray dollar or million dollars that BB didn't think needed to be spent.

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Bloggerboo 2 years, 7 months ago

You continue to be flat out wrong in every post you make on this site. Entertaining as you are, retirement should be on your mind.

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greyghost 2 years, 7 months ago

I like how you keep trying to out posters here on this site. And while you may be right about the Bloggerboo with her quick/snappy defense of anything USD 348, you are wrong about me being Jeff Myrick. So, just to let you know, your "outing" credibility took a nose-dive after that.

BTW, if you really want to know that I'm not JM, just ask TheOnlyGreyghost--she'll vouch that I am way too horrible a person to be her good friend. Thanks for your cooperation

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greyghost 2 years, 7 months ago

During an F5 tornado, it'll be every man, woman, child, and family pet for themselves. Thanks.

Last I knew the schoolhouse was a publicly funded government building. Where is the fallout shelter? Where is the safe-house during Armageddon? Just ask the people of Joplin if they wished they had a community shelter in case of a devastating tornado. I bet they would say the more the better.

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Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of Bloggerboo's true identity, the patronizing tone is rude and unnecessary. It is specifically on point that the federal government paid 4.5 million to make the PAC a "safe haven" for our community. It is wrong to designate who can or cannot use it in emergency situations.

Greyghost is correct. The fact that it is a publicly funded government building is all the more reason it should be available to our entire community. The City and School District need to work this out.

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Bloggerboo 2 years, 7 months ago

You question my tone after this?

"We spend millions of dollars on constructing a safe shelter that will hold over a thousand people in a tornado and then the District says it's too much trouble to figure out the details???? While I understand it is not an easy proposition, I think that we should damn well figure it out. Let's work together."

Where/when did the District say it was too much trouble? Mr. Parks said the two sides have not reached an agreement, and wants to meet again. Talk about rude. You suggest it is all one side's fault, when clearly the article points out it is both sides. You disgust me. Facts don't mean jack squat to you, so long as you can get your jabs in. You should be ashamed.

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NanCrisp 2 years, 7 months ago

DeSoto, however, is going on record to say their FEMA-funded school addition will be available to "DeSoto High School students and staff." http://kceducationenterprise.org/2011/07/25/federal-grant-helps-de-soto-high-school-fund-storm-shelter-construction/

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Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

The fact remains that this "safe room" is a public building. The District holds the reigns on it. Board members' quotes about "finding alternatives" or "making it unavailable" are frustrating to me.

The District unlocks buildings for community use all the time. Why should this be different - expecially when lives could be in danger. I sincerely hope a solution is found.

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Stacy Napier 2 years, 7 months ago

Moral of the story is stop giving (by voting) the school district money for fancy things.

Yea we only paid 1.125 million for this. Really that is a pretty big chunk. Make the district do with what they have. It is time to stop the open pocket book policy.

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Julie Craig 2 years, 7 months ago

By the way - here is a link to last year's article where the PAC was actually used as a storm shelter:

http://signal.baldwincity.com/news/2011/may/26/newly-opened-usd-348-performing-arts-center-used-s/

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greyghost 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the link, Gazoo!

I'm sure there is some formality that the board is trying to wrap their heads around with this and I hope they use their heads while trying to do so. At least we know that Dorathy wants it opened anytime the sirens go off! Money well spent by the district taxpayers!

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