Hopkins Co. School officials: New auxiliary gym and storm shelter design process underway

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Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 5:54 AM CST
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HOPKINS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - In the wake of last year’s tornadoes, the plans for Hopkins County Schools’ additions to two of their high schools would also have them function as certified storm shelters.

School administration says people have been talking about getting auxiliary gyms for two high schools in Hopkins County for some time. When they got the opportunity to actually build them, they decided they should also double as a way to make Hopkins County a little bit more tornado-resistant.

Looking around Hopkins County, you can still see signs of the tornadoes that tore through the area last December. With that in mind, when administrators for Hopkins County Schools decided to build additions for two of its high schools, they decided to give them some special features.

”Our architects joke that you essentially could drop a bus on the roof and it could land on it,” said Hopkins County Schools Assistant Superintendent Marty Cline. “That’s what it has to be able to sustain.”

Additions for Madisonville North Hopkins and Hopkins County Central High Schools are planned to be certified storm shelters. Each should be able to withstand wind gusts of 250 miles per hour, and hold about 1,400 people during a storm.

”It is substantially different,” said Cline. “There is a cost associated with that, but what cost do you put upon the safety of our communities.”

Preliminary work has already begun where they plan to put each shelter. They say their construction budget is a combined $10 million for both sites, and they’re paying for it primarily with federal grants aimed to increase student health and safety.

Each addition will hold a full-size basketball court, locker rooms, restrooms, and a multi-purpose room, but they say they’re most excited for the potential benefit to the community.

”We’ve had our share of natural disasters, so any way that we can help support our community in these situations, to help not only keep us safe, but then help recover in the aftermath of those such events, those are blessings,” said Cline.

The administration says the timeline for this project is still a little bit up-in-the-air, but they could have construction bids as early as December.