Latexo ISD votes to pursue windshelter/gym grant
Houston County Courier
By Lynda Jones
In a special called meeting Tuesday, July 26, the Latexo ISD Board of Trustees voted 4 – 1 to pursue a grant to build a wind shelter/gymnasium. After a lengthy discussion and a phone conference with a representative of H2O Partners, Trustee Mike Furrh voted against pursuing the grant. Trustee Kent Clark left the meeting before the vote was taken. Superintendent Don Elsom presented the board with some drawings for the trustees to review, one drawing of an 11,000 square foot structure and the other having 15,000 square feet. The proposed gym would be a domed configuration. He said the grant writers, H20 Partners said communities like the domed structures because they are easily identifiable when they are seeking shelter from a storm. The state is promoting the building of such structures so communities will have safe shelter in the case of tornadoes and other severe storms. The grant funding is based on the number of people living within one/quarter of a mile from the structure and being able to walk to it. Elsom said the drawings were very rough, but show how a science lab and classrooms could be incorporated within the building. A domed structure with a little more than 11,000 square feet, with only a gym (no classrooms) would cost about $1.6 million, with FEMA paying $1.2 million if the grant is approved. It would cost the district $400,000, or more if the district opts to build a larger structure with the science lab and classrooms. During the discussion, Elsom presented figures to the board reflecting what it would cost to repay a one million bond over 15 years and over 20 years. By contracting with H20 Partners to pursue the grant, the board will pay the firm $20,000, unless they change their mind before the application is submitted. In that case, the board would only pay an hourly rate for the work completed by the grant writers. Furrh argued against spending money on the project, stating that just because the money is out there, it doesn’t mean they need to pursue it. He expressed concern about pursuing future, unanticipated needs of the district that the district wouldn’t be able to afford if it was tied to a bond for this proposed gym. Elsom discussed some safety issues with the current gym, which has about 9,000 square feet including the dressing area. One factor was the close proximity of the bottom bleacher to the boundary line on the gym floor. The proposed gym would have wheelchair access.