Craighead County Judge Dale Haas received grant approval from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Services for construction of the Eastern Courthouse Saferoom/Shelter Project.
The funds for the Eastern District Courthouse at Lake City were made available through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program under FEMA.
"We have needed the space for a saferoom at the Lake City courthouse for years," Haas said. "When grant funding became availiable, we didn't waste any time sending in the application.
"Craighead County will construct a 46x20' safe room and tornado shelter on the west side of the Eastern District Courthouse. This will be a single story architecturally compatible building. The 800 plus usable space in the building will be divided into a vestibule, storage closet, and the safe room. The 695 square feet of safe room will accommodate 138 persons based on the five square feet per person."
The structure will be constructed of fully grouted reinforced eight inch CMU walls. It will have steel roof joists supporting a metal form deck and four inches of concrete. The exterior door will be made of steel.
"During January of 1999 we went through an outbreak of tornadoes, with the path of one tornado passing along the northern city limits of Lake City, causing damage to several homes and other structures, with destruction of a power company substation," Haas said. "In previous years numerous funnel clouds have been spotted in the area, causing minor damage to surrounding farms and woodlands.
"The tornado history of Craighead County indicates a high risk of death, injuries and property damage in this area. Damage assessment of structures involved in tornadoes reveal that conventional buildings cannot stand up to the high winds and missile impacts produced by tornadoes. Light commercial construction similar to the building housing the Eastern District Courthouse is especially vulnerable to tornado damage."
The cost of the project is estimated at $160,680. The state will share 12.5 percent of the cost at $20,085, with the federal share of 75 percent of the cost at $120,510, leaving the county's share of 12.5 percent at $20,085.
"The good news is that the actual cost to Craighead County will only be $7,871.00, due to in-kind cash payments and in-kind site preparation," Haas said. "This is an excellent opportunity to construct the safe area, at minimum cost."
Nov. 15, 2002 is the completion date for the saferoom/shelter project, but construction it is expected to be accomplished much earlier in the year.