One USD 506 tornado shelter ready for use; five others nearing completion

USD 506 administrators and school board members, Meadow View Grade School staff and others participated in a ribbon cutting for the new tornado shelter at the school south of Parsons on Monday night.


Meadow View Grade School celebrated the completion of its new tornado shelter with a ribbon cutting Monday evening.

USD 506 Superintendent John Wyrick said the district has six tornado shelters under construction and Meadow View’s is the first to be completed.

Altamont Grade School and Labette County High School are not far behind, being 95 to 98% complete.

It is anticipated the Bartlett, Edna, Mound Valley shelters will be complete by Thanksgiving.

Wet weather this year has contributed to delays in the construction, Wyrick said.

Wyrick began pursuing construction of tornado shelters to protect the districts’ students and staff from harm.

When a bond issue that included construction of the shelters did not pass, Wyrick began to seek other funding.

Unable to secure direct funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Wyrick began making calls to FEMA on a regular basis to find out if there was any leftover funding available from other disasters in the state. His persistence paid off in October 2017 when he was told there was leftover money from funding allocated for southwest Kansas wildfires and a snowstorm. He began working on filling out the applications for each school.

Cost to build the six shelters was estimated at $2.7 million by Protection Shelters.

The shelters were built with FEMA funds providing 75% of the cost and the district providing the other 25%. FEMA approved a total of $2,008,000 for the shelters, leaving the district to cover $670,000.

Each shelter is a poured-in-place FEMA structure, built separate from the main school buildings rather than being attached and constructed in accordance with FEMA guidelines.

Principal Chris Kastler thanked all those who made the shelter possible.

When not in use as a tornado shelter, the 56-foot by 50-foot, 2,800-square-foot room is used as the new cafeteria to feed Meadow View Grade School’s 400-plus students.

The facility at LCHS will be a 3,400 square feet. The idea is being tossed around to move band or vocal music to the shelter from Haury Hall to keep them from competing with other classes in the building.

Altamont Grade School will have a 2,000-square-foot shelter. Bartlett Grade School will have 1,050-square-foot shelter. Edna and Mound Valley will each have a 1,600-square-foot shelter.

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