Does county need 2 shelters?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2014

One shelter or two – that seems to be the question for the county’s emergency management agency and the commission.

In August, the county was awarded a $125,000 hazard mitigation grant as a result of Hurricane Isaac damage and requires a 25 percent match from the county. It was agreed then to construct a site built safe room for employees and building visitors that would also house EMA’s emergency operation center.

In December, commissioners authorized the EMA director Susan Harris to proceed with the grant to construct two community shelters at the county administration office, as well as to seek bids for the project.

On Wednesday, that project hit a snag after Harris informed commissioners that there isn’t a need to construct two shelters when one would work.

“This is a community shelter, which means that it would be accessible to those within a half-mile radius,” Harris said. “I just need to know what direction you would like to go with this project, since the deadline to submit our plan is Jan. 29.”

Harris said she found a company that could construct a larger shelter to accommodate the county’s onsite workforce, as well as the EMA’s operation center.

She said the facility could be constructed in the courtyard between the two wings of the county administration building and would connect to the building via a breezeway.

“Then, we (at EMA) can work as long as we need to inside our building before heading to the shelter,” she said.

Harris said the grant terms require that a completed proposal – including plans – be submitted with the final application.

Commissioners agreed more discussion on the project was needed before submitting the plans and rescinded the motion to solicit bids on the project.

The group also agreed to meet again before Jan. 27 to discuss the project.

Along with other routine business, the commission announced a vacancy on the Organized Community Action (OCAP) board and the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission’s revolving loan board. Those interested in serving should contact the county administration office, Chairman Bill Godwin said.