Trumann School District Gets Safe Room

January 12, 2004 -- Posted at 9:02 p.m. CST

TRUMANN--Northeast Arkansas is in the heart of tornado alley, and when severe weather happen, finding shelter becomes a top priority. Folks in Trumann are in luck though. a government grant funded a new safe shelter, located at the town's elementary school...and it officially opened on Monday.

"The building is constructed of 10-inch concrete walls, with reed barb about two and a half, three's about like a bank vault," said Joe Waleszonia, Trumann Schools Superintendent.

The safe shelter was designed to withstand over 300 mile per hour winds, fires and even earthquakes.

"I would say it is the safest structure in Trumann, and as far as if it's storming, it would be the place to be," laughed Waleszonia.

The building will be able to provide both comfort and security to more than 700 kids and adults in the community.

Carol Sexton is a former teacher at the school and is now the Migrant Education Coordinator. She says the new building is calming for upset students during severe weather.

"I feel like in here, with being out of the, no windows, they don't really see and they kind of forget about the clouds and the bad weather outside if you're inside a place and can't see," said Sexton.

The building serves as place for peace of mind for not only teachers and students, but also for parents too.

"I would want to be here in case of a tornado, that's for sure," said Earnie Link, a parent of two students in the district.

"It's going to be a great asset to the Trumann public schools, plus the community even. Knowing that we have tornados in our area and the kids can come around and come in this building and be safe, you know, it makes you feel real good," said Link.

The building will also serve as a multi-purpose room and will be open for programs before and after school hours. During threatening weather, it will be open to the public for shelter.

The safe room features ten foot high ceilings and cost just over a half-million dollars to construct.  It is also more than 5,000 square feet.