Community storm shelter on its way

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

BROOKLAND, AR (KAIT) - The city of Brookland is one step closer to having a community storm shelter.

Mayor Kenneth Jones of Brookland said they were recently awarded a grant that will make a huge difference in their progress.

"We had a Rural Service Convention week before last," Jones said. "We were awarded a grant for $15,000 to add to the money that we had budgeted to build our storm shelter."

Jones said they already know what these funds will help them accomplish.

"This money will help us finish the storm shelter," Jones said. "It will pay for the electricity, plumbing, heat, and air. This means we'll get the project done much sooner."

Jones said the storm shelter has been a long time coming.

"We've actually been looking into this project for several years now," Jones said. "Being a small community and being able to get the funding has been the issue, as most people have. Through hard work by our employees and savings and going out and getting multiple quotes on items and getting the best quality item for the best price, we've been able to put money up in our budget as we fix things. Then we finally came to a point where we were financially able to budget for a storm shelter."

Jones said he knows how much the shelter will be used, judging by the number of people in their area who already seek shelter during a storm.

"It's a very big deal," Jones said. "A couple of weeks ago, when we had the storms move through and the tornado warnings were here, there were 26 people here at city hall. It's not really a storm shelter, but it's a better structure than being out in a mobile home and we were glad to be able to open this for them to come here."

The shelter will be 24 by 45, made of solid concrete and hold around 300 to 400 people.

The entire building will be around 80 feet long and 25 feet wide.

The remainder of the builder will be used as a senior citizens building.

The cost of the project should be around $75,000 and will be located in downtown Brookland beside the police department.

"Residents are excited," Jones said. "That they will have a place to go in a storm event and our plans, if this works out as well as we think, is to look at budgeting another one for next year on the east side of the tracks. As you know, we have the Union Pacific Railroad that kind of splits our town in two. We've already got land purchased on the east side of the tracks where we plan for a small park for that area. And we will add a storm shelter in that area as well."

The city began accepting bids for construction of the project Tuesday afternoon.

Jones said once construction begins, he believes it will only take a few months to complete.

He said they would like to see the storm shelter complete by this fall when the next round of weather comes through.

"Our goal is to be prepared," Jones said. "For the next major storm event as the season's change."

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