PELL CITY – The St. Clair County Commission approved funding for the construction of a new storm shelter on the Pell City High School campus.

The funding approval comes after Dr. Michael Barber, superintendent of Pell City schools, asked the commission to partner with the school system and the Pell City Council to help fund the $1 million shelter project.

The commission approved spending up to $150,000 toward the construction project, or to match what the Pell City Council contributes to the project.

“First off, I want to thank you all,” Barber told the commission Tuesday morning, after county officials approved the funding. “I think this is a great partnership and will provide a service that is needed.”

The Pell City school system received a grant of about $800,000 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The school system must provide a 25 percent match for the shelter construction cost.

The shelter would house about 1,000 people in an emergency.

Barber said there is additional cost because the school system wants to paint the interior shelter walls, add floor tile and a drop ceiling so the shelter will have a finished look and can have a dual purpose or use.

St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said the county opens up the courthouse in Pell City when severe weather approaches, but the facility is not a severe weather facility.

“This is more like Riverside’s facility, but on a bigger scale,” Batemon said, adding that the shelter could withstand 250 mph winds.

The planned storm shelter is an addition to the Pell City Center, which is adjacent to the high school. The shelter will be constructed on the side of the building, next to the Pell City Center Performing Arts Theater.

Barber said he will address the Pell City Council at Thursday’s work session, and he hopes the City Council will approve the partnership between the city, county and school system at next Monday’s council meeting.

Pell City High School has another storm shelter that is also used as part of the high school cafeteria. That shelter can house about 100 to 200 students.

Barber said there are about 1,205 students who attend Pell City High School, so the additional shelter could help provide enough shelter for all high school students if a storm approaches while school is in session.

He said the new storm shelter could be opened to the public at any time, day or night.

In other matters at Tuesday’s meeting, the commission:

O Approved a contract with William Thomas to transport voting machines.

O Approved the restructuring of the Sheriff’sDepartment, which will eliminate the chief deputy position and create an assistant sheriff position at a pay grade of 32, along with two captain positions at a pay grade of 27.

O Approved appropriating $1,000 to the St. Clair County Board of Education for the 2014 Special Olympics, set for October at Moody City Park.

O Approved allowing employees to enroll with Life Insurance Company of Alabama at no cost to the county.

O Approved an $8,000 invoice for Kelley Group for the completion of the preliminary engineering for the Canoe Creek boat ramp project.

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