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Work begins on WDC's multi-use safe room

Photo by Dana Pavek/ WDC Schools Wadena Deer Creek FEMA representative Bruce Boyne points to the area where the safe room will be located, adjacent to the new gym. Landwehr Construction began preparing the site on April 23, as scheduled. Decent weather conditions have benefited the start of this project as well as the school construction.

Work began Monday, April 23 as scheduled on preparing the site for Wadena-Deer Creek Schools' Multi-Use Safe Room.

On Monday morning, workers from Landwehr Construction Inc. of St. Cloud were moving fill and compacting the area to prepare for the structure. The removal of the cement slab that housed the former WDC Maintenance Shop will be broken up and removed. A new Maintenance Shop is now housed northwest of the tennis courts.

WDC secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fund the multi-use safe room - one of the first of its kind in the upper Midwest.

WDC received $950,000 in FEMA funding for the Safe Room construction. The 63-foot-by-103-foot Safe Room will be 6,500 square feet and will be located adjacent to the north side of the gymnasium at the new grades 5-12 school.

The facility will be constructed according to FEMA guidelines, which requires the Safe Room to be designed to withstand winds up to 275 mph. The facility will be a multi-use facility serving as an additional gymnasium at the new school, which will be used by the students and community for physical education, athletic events and community events.

FEMA is assisting WDC in its recovery from the June 17, 2010 tornado. Bruce Boyne is the school's FEMA representative. He has helped WDC secure FEMA funds for the new middle/high school and the Safe Room.

If and when a weather-related event occurs and the Wadena County Dispatcher's Office sounds the warning sirens, dispatchers will be able to unlock and turn on the Safe Room interior and exterior lighting electronically from the Dispatcher's Office.

"This will enable the Safe Room to be a Safe Room not only for students and staff present at the school, but also make it a community safe room available should a severe weather event occur day or night, year-round," said Boyne.

Plans are to have law enforcement and school staff report to the Safe Room when it is opened electronically to assure proper procedures are followed at the Safe Room. Once the Safe Room is completed and operational, the community will be provided additional information on the Safe Room procedures.

Completion date of the safe room is the fall of 2012.