CLEO SPRINGS, Okla. (May 5, 2015) - On Thursday, May 7, Aline-Cleo Elementary School will celebrate its new storm shelter with a safe room dedication ceremony featuring a severe weather safety presentation by Oklahoma City News 9 Storm Tracker Marty Logan. The ceremony will be begin at 10 a.m. in the school’s gymnasium and is free and open to the public.
Logan, a retired lieutenant from the Woodward, Okla., Fire Department has been tracking storms for News 9 for more than 20 years. In 2013, members of the Oklahoma House and Senate honored him for helping warn residents of his hometown that the deadly April 15, 2012, Woodward tornado was headed their way. Logan will cover severe weather safety in regards to floods, lightning, tornadoes and shelter.
“Our goal is to provide a safe place for every single student, teacher and staff person in the school during the threat of severe weather, and this safe room is a great first step toward that goal and is reason to celebrate,” Aline-Cleo Superintendent Barry Nault said. “We are looking forward to Marty Logan’s presentation and will open it to everyone in our community because severe weather safety is important to all, no matter your age or how long you’ve lived in Oklahoma. We can never be too prepared.”
The safe room was made possible by a $15,000 donation from the MidContinent chapter of the Gas Processors Association (GPA). The project team originally estimated the start date for safe room construction to be in May or June, but in late February, the school district learned of a pre-constructed safe room that could be transported from Joplin, Mo., to the Aline-Cleo school and would be available immediately.
The shelter was delivered to the school in mid-March, well ahead of the original timeline. It was one of 31 shelters originally built to protect children at temporary schools constructed in Joplin after an EF5 tornado destroyed or damaged 10 Joplin School District buildings, including the district’s only high school in May 2011. The approximately 200 sq. ft. concrete and steel shelter features 8-inch thick walls and weighs about 70,000 pounds; it is made to withstand winds in excess of 250 miles per hour.
In early April, voters in the Aline-Cleo Public Schools District approved a bond issue that will help fund additional safe rooms to provide a safe place for every student, teacher and staff person. Nault expects to have the additional shelters in place before the start of the next school year to cover the entire school, which hosts about 80 children ranging from pre-K to 6th grade, plus its teaching staff.
“MidContinent GPA has been a strong financial supporter of educational institutions and their industry-related programs for several years, and last spring, our board of directors began investigating additional worthy causes that impact the people and communities within our industry,” said MidContinent GPA member Wayne Tate, Exterran. “One such cause highlighted every spring in Oklahoma is storm season. With the school tragedy in Moore, Okla., last year, the public has become even more aware of the vulnerability of our children while they are in school.
“There has been much talk about having safe rooms available in as many schools as possible, but the challenge is, as always, the cost in an environment where budgets are being stretched already. We organized a committee to identify communities in the operating areas of many GPA member plants/operations that met our list of criteria, which is how we chose Aline-Cleo. We are incredibly pleased to make this shelter a reality for the students and teachers.”