Morgan County Schools finalizing plans for tornado shelter

Morgan County R-2 School District will soon have an auditorium that doubles as a tornado shelter.

Morgan County R-2 School District are finalizing plans to build a new auditorium on their campus, which will double as a full-scale tornado shelter.

Superintendent Joyce Ryerson said the whole district is excited about the idea. Recently, voters in Morgan County approved a 15 cent levy increase on property taxes that will help pay for the project, which is estimated to cost around $4 million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for $1.8 million of the project, and the district will contribute $6.5 million for the safe room portion of the project. The district will use money from a 15 cent voter-approved property tax levy increase to fund the remaining $2 million.

Ryerson said the danger is real and people need a place to go. "In 2006, one of our elementary schools was narrowly missed when an F3 tornado came and it jumped the lake," Ryerson said. "It hit the Golden Beach area, which is also in our school district."

The district has not decided on a final location to build the auditorium, but Ryerson said it will most likely either be built next to the high school or in a parking lot abutting the middle school.

Students at Morgan County R-2 High School said they think it will be a huge improvement for everyone concerned. Student Sarah Oetting said she will feel much safer once the shelter is constructed. "Right now, it's not really a safe place for us to be inside the school if a tornado comes," Oetting said.

"I think it's good not only because it's a tornado shelter, but I think it's cool for the school to have an auditorium for us, something that we lack is a place to go if they have plays," Jennika Weaver said.

Ryerson said they will build a smaller satellite