County opens bids for Meeksville shelter construction

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A proposed storm shelter for the Meeksville community has finally been put out for bids by contractors.

The Pike County Commission received a grant in August 2017 for the construction of the facility near the Meeksville Volunteer Frie Department, and officials said that the project was ready to move forward in May 2018, but Reeves said there was still some preliminary work being done including site surveys and a civil engineering survey.

Monday night, Reeves informed the commission that the construction was ready to be put out for bids by contractors.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The commission unanimously approved to began accepting bids for the project.

“I’m just glad we’re moving forward with it,” said Homer Wright, who represents the community. “It’s been a long wait.”

Reeves said consultant Eddie Culpepper sat down with county administrator McKenzie Wilson, Wright and himself earlier Monday to make final tweaks on the project so that it could be put out for contractors to bid on.

Reeves said the shelter is an urgent need in the community.

“If you look at that area , there’s not anywhere that I consider to be a safe space,” Reeves said. “We tell people to be in the center of their homes if they don’t have a basement away from windows and doors, but that’s the extent of it there. Where it sits in the county, there’s not really a safe space to go to.”

The bids will be advertised for two weeks and once a bid is awarded by the commission, the contractor will begin to prepare construction. Reeves told the commission the timeline for the completion of the project should be May or June.

This isn’t the only community in the county in need of a shelter either, Reeves said.

“After we get this one up we’re hoping to apply for some others in some other areas,” Reeves said. “But this gives the people in that community a safe place until the storm passes.”

The commission also discussed the use of tornado sirens and Rave Alerts during the recent storm that passed through Pike County.

Commissioner Charlie Harris said the siren at the school went off during the brunt of the storm but another nearby siren sounded 30 minutes later after the storm had mostly moved out of the area.

Reeves said most of the county’s sirens are not working properly, and that the EMA is not working to keep up maintenance of the sirens as the county switches to relying more heavily on the Rave alert notification system. The system calls, texts and emails residents who opt in to the service about severe weather, road closures or whichever alerts they want. The system also automatically calls and texts phones within the county when a tornado warning is active.

Reeves said the sirens at the schools are the only sirens that are being maintained, based on the commission’s decision to transition to the alert system.

Commissioner Chad Copeland, District 4, commended the alert system for notifying residents during the storm faster than sirens or weather alert apps.