MERIDIAN — Special to the Star
Officials are considering moving the location of a new safe room to be constructed in Lauderdale County with federal dollars.
Plans were to build the safe room at the Lauderdale County Agri-Center on Highway 19 South, but now college and county officials are hoping to locate it on the Meridian Community College campus.
MCC’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday voted unanimously to support the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors’ efforts to construct the centrally located safe room shelter for area citizens. The approximate $3 million project would be funded through the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) with a minimal in-kind contribution from the county, according to Josh Todd, president of the Board of Supervisors. Lauderdale County was approved for a $3.2 million safe room grant in 2012.
The 15,000-square foot safe room, which would include restroom facilities, backup generators, a kitchenette, a receiving area and a large open room, would hold as many as 1,000 persons in a tornado event, Todd noted. Prospectively, it would be located adjacent to the MCC soccer pitch in close proximity to the college’s residence halls.
MCC trustees – Tommy Dulaney, Ralph Young, Alex Weddington and John Johnson - voted to support the project contingent on a favorable opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s office, enabling the college to deed the land on which the building would be constructed over to Lauderdale County.
“This project is a win-win,” Todd said. “It’s a win for the county in securing a safe room which could shelter a goodly number of local residents in the event of a major weather event. It’s a win for MCC in that the building could serve as a safe room to which students could be quickly located if something like a tornado alert were to occur. And, finally, it’s a win for the community because when the building is not being utilized as a shelter, it can be used for a variety of purposes such as community and campus meetings and events.”