TUSCUMBIA — Mike Melton said he hopes seven new storm shelters or "safe houses" will be installed and ready for use in Colbert County by the end of the year.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved money for 22 storm shelters that will be built during the next three years, primarily in unincorporated parts of the county.
Melton, director of the Colbert County Emergency Management Agency, told county commissioners he expects to begin soliciting bids later this week or early next week.
Commissioners approved the specifications for the shelters, which will vary in size from a 45-person capacity to 88, depending on their locations.
Five of the shelters will be 48 feet by 10 feet and two will be 24 feet by 10 feet.
The 48-foot shelters will accommodate 88 people, while the 24-foot shelter will hold 45, Melton said.
The shelters will be built on a concrete slab and constructed of prefabricated concrete with a quarter- inch steel roof. They will be equipped with restrooms and doors that can be opened by a radio frequency sent out by the EMA.
"We want to get these built and work from there," Melton said. "I chose these seven just to get it started."
Melton told commissioners the seven sites were chosen because of the availability of property. Some will be built on property already owned by the commission, such as the Colbert Alloys and Rose Trail parks, or at volunteer fire departments.
"Colbert County owns four of the lots," Melton said.
Melton said it will cost the county $2,067,836 to construct the shelters.
In August, commissioners approved $516,959 in matching money for the project, which will likely be provided in the form of cash and in-kind work.
District 1 Commissioner Rex Burleson said he is OK with the sites selected.
"We're putting some in just about everybody's district," Burleson said.
The county has storm shelters in Leighton, Ford City, Littleville and Cherokee.
Melton said the bids will be opened at 10 a.m. March 19 in the commission office at the Colbert County Courthouse.
The county has also secured funding for 24 additional severe weather warning sirens.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.
Colbert shelters Sites where additional shelters will be built in Colbert County:
Rose Trail Park
County Line Road and Second Street
Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Department
Highway 247 Volunteer Fire Department
Denton Road behind Arnold's Truck Stop
Hickory Street, Tuscumbia (near Trenholm Elementary School)
Colbert Alloys Park