County to consider storm shelter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency wants to partner with Adams County in the creation of a storm shelter.

The federal government has allocated money through its Hazardous Mitigation Grant — created after Hurricane Katrina — to build durable tornado and hurricane shelters where they are needed the most. MEMA and FEMA are managing the project, called FEMA 361.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens told the Adams County Board of Supervisors Monday that the county is eligible to receive the grant.

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“The main purpose of the shelter is to be an evacuation for the costal areas,” Owens said.

The $3.25 million grant would be split three ways, with the federal government covering 75 percent of the funding, the state providing 20 percent and the county being responsible for 5 percent.

Owens said the grant payment method would be “in kind” which would leave the county more options available for paying off the $162,500 it would owe.

Owens said the use of county land and preparing the area for the building could be considered a form of payment if the offering and preparation services were estimated close to the $162,500 mark.

“It’s possible that the county wouldn’t have to put that much cash up,” Owens said.

Supervisors were notified that certain conditions had to be met if the shelter were built.

“It is required that (the county) exercise the building,” Owens said. “Another string attached to this is we have to put it somewhere near U.S. 61.”

Adams County Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter said if the county built the shelter, one location to consider would be the Steckler Building on U.S. 61.

“The school could use it, and it’s centrally located,” Felter said. “It could be used as a community center — it’s got the parking lot and it would fit with the school.”

The board decided to take the FEMA 361 shelter under advisement and will look into the matter further.

The board also received an update on the progress of the county’s dealings with MEMA and FEMA over the wood chips from Hurricane Gustav debris.

County Road Manager Clarence “Curly” Jones told board members the debris sites had been cleared.

Adams County Administrator Cathy Walker said now that the sites were clear, the only thing to do was wait on the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

“We will have to call DEQ and get them to release those sites,” Walker said. “I’m not sure about reimbursement. FEMA will have to look at it and see what they approve. Until the project if finished, we won’t get our money.”

In other news:

Election Commissioner Mitch Ballard reported the county saved a couple of thousand dollars on the upcoming Nov. 3 election by printing out its own ballots.

Supervisors nominated five candidates to be interviewed for the Natchez Regional Hospital Board of Trustees’ position formerly belonging to the Rev. Chip Davis, who recently moved out of town. The board will begin its interviews within the next week.