Adams County prepared to open 361 shelter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NATCHEZ — Forecasts predict potentially severe weather today, and if that occurs Adams County is prepared to open its new safe room to residents.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors officially granted Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford permission to open the FEMA 361 Safe Room.

Construction on the project, which has been in the works since 2008, has finished, and the contractor turned over the keys to the building Friday, Bradford said.

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The $3.4 million, 10,000 square-foot shelter is built to withstand the force of an EF5 tornado, and was funded primarily by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. When it is formally dedicated, it will be named after the late Louis Gunning, the former director of the Natchez Stewpot who died earlier this year.

The facility is located near the Steckler Building at Natchez High School — the grant requires it be near a school — and Bradford said the Natchez-Adams School District will be responsible for maintenance, except during severe weather, when his office will take over.

The supervisors also discussed how the building could be used in the future, including the possibility of renting it out for community events.

County Administrator Joe Murray said Pike County uses its 361 facility that way, but how it can be used will depend on the school district and what the school wants to do.

The building will be officially dedicated 11 a.m. Nov. 30, an event that is open to the public, Bradford said.

In other news:

-County Road Manager Robbie Dollar said the county has experienced a rash of road signs being intentionally damaged in the area of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sedgefield roads.

“You can see where they are running over them, backing over them and tearing them down,” Dollar said.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said such vandalism could be especially dangerous, leading to a situation where first responders aren’t able to get to someone in need as fast as possible because the roads aren’t labeled.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said parents in the county need to make sure their children aren’t the ones doing the damage.

“If your son or daughter drives a big truck, you need to go out there and look, and if the bumper is skinned up with green paint from these signs, stop it,” Lazarus said. “Because when we catch them, we will make them pay for all of these. If you want to keep them out of trouble, do your parental duty.”

-At the request of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, the supervisors voted to retire K-9 drug dog Scout but to allow him to stay with his handler, deputy Tom Borum.

State law allows counties to give retired police dogs to their handlers, who they have spent the majority of their time with, board attorney Scott Slover said.

Scout has worked with the ACSO since 2010. A spokesperson for the ACSO said the average working life of a drug dog is approximately five years.

-The board voted to authorize Slover to seek an attorney general’s opinion about whether or not the county can slate a private road to be saved using an Emergency Watershed Project but require the road owner to pay the matching fee.

-The board met in executive session to discuss current and potential litigation.

-The board also discussed the potential sale of property.

Slover said the property discussion included two separate parcels of the former International Paper property, which the county owns.