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FEMA grant dictates Junction to build a separate shelter from its new city hall

Junction City is going to have a larger and stronger emergency shelter than it originally planned for in its new city hall, but it will be a separate building.

The council voted unanimously to formally accept the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s grant of$750,000 for an emergency shelter at a special called meeting Thursday night. Mayor Jim Douglas then said he found out that the money can’t be used for the construction of a multipurpose room in city hall which was going to double as a community shelter during a natural disaster or emergency.

The town had applied for the grant about five years ago, then earlier this year, voted to go ahead with the $1.6 million building project for a new city hall on their own.

After meeting with representatives from the League of Cities, Douglas said he found out the shelter “has to be a stand alone project. We can’t incorporate it in the new city hall.”

However, it will be located on the same lot as city hall, and maybe be connected by a breezeway, he explained.

Construction of city hall will continue as planned, while the bidding process for design and construction for the shelter goes forward. “It could be six months to a year before they turn us loose,” Douglas said.

City Hall is going to be a 10,000-square foot structure, and will house the police and fire stations. The emergency shelter will be roughly 2,700 square feet, Douglas said.

The shelter will also be constructed following strict guidelines and be able to withstand up to 250-mph winds, Douglas explained.

There is a long list of requirements stating that the shelter will be on a concrete slab foundation; have concrete and steel ceilings and walls, contain emergency communications and alarms, HVAC and an air filtration system, Douglas said.

He expects the design will also blend in with the city hall facade.

“The shelter will be more fortified,” Douglas said. “I’m not really disappointed” that the city can’t use the grant money for the original shelter plan. “This will be a much safer situation, and we can definitely use the space.”

Douglas said meetings will be conducted in city hall. And once more details are forthcoming about the shelter, he anticipates that it can be used for other purposes as well. “We’ll know more once it gets going.”

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