The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 3, 2013

County OKs 2 tornado shelters, grant funding needed for 6

By Karen Middleton

— People in Elkmont and the Cowford community will be able to ride out tornadoes more securely in two new shelters.

The Limestone County Commission approved the shelters this week, and the panel is eyeing building six more shelters around the county. However, with bids coming in higher than anticipated on the Elkmont and Cowford projects, Chairman Stanley Menefee said the county would have to find more grant funding.

Both shelters came in at $219,091, but an additional $500 is required on the Cowford shelter because of soil buildup, said Menefee. With 75/25 matching grants from FEMA, the county was able to secure additional funding for the Elkmont shelter, but the county will need to find additional funding for the Cowford shelter, according to County Clerk-Administrator Pam Ball.

Menefee said the Cowford shelter would be built on the grounds of Oak Grove CME Church. He said the county must secure 30-year leases for the property on which each shelter is built.

“The one down in Cowford is on property the city of Athens annexed with the Black’s Landing property years ago,” said Menefee. “The city has built the Cowford-Oak Grove Fire Department there to serve Black’s Landing.”

The chairman said the Cowford shelter is especially important because that is the location where the most violent storms of the past 40 years have entered the county from Lawrence County, across the Tennessee River.

“The storms are on you before you know it,” said Menefee. “That’s why the EMA sets off the sirens when the storms are in Lawrence County.”

He said the Elkmont shelter would be built at 19667 Sandlin Road, near the Elkmont Fire Department.

“Lee Ham with the state EMA is handling the grants,” said Menefee. “They’re bidding six more shelters. We’re in line for those, but I haven’t been briefed on the details.”