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Bloomington FEMA project moves forward

By BY MELISSA CROWE - MCROWE@VICAD.COM
Jan. 28, 2013 at 5 p.m.
Updated Jan. 27, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.

Victoria County commissioners set the groundwork Monday to start receiving $1.8 million in reimbursements for a dome-covered gym in Bloomington that will double as an emergency shelter.

The $2.4 million project will be funded with 25 percent coming from the school district's fund balance and 75 percent from the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While the project was approved in March, the step commissioners took this week authorizes the county auditor to set a line item in the budget for the funds, said Administrative Services Director Joyce Dean.

Although Bloomington School District is heading up the entire project, the county is overseeing it and collects the reimbursements to issue to the district, she said.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Danny Garcia said the trustees at Bloomington school district are handling the process.

"We're not writing checks," he said.

The Texas Safe Shelter Initiative facility is part of the district's larger master plan that includes an athletic complex with an outdoor track, football stadium, baseball and softball fields.

The Texas Safe Shelter Initiative calls for structures in 11 counties in the Rio Grande Valley, around Corpus Christi and along the coast. So far, FEMA has awarded $34.5 million.

Woodsboro Independent School District in Refugio County had the first facility, which was built in 2011.

Edna Independent School District will complete its $2.5 million project in March.

Bay City in Matagorda County received an $1.8 million grant in December for an emergency shelter project that will serve as a wellness center and physical rehabilitation center.

Kingsville will have two that serve as multipurpose training centers.

The Bloomington project must be complete by Jan. 6, 2014.

While it is not a general population safe room during hurricanes, it will be available to the town's general population during tornado events, according to the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative synopsis statement.

During hurricanes, the shelter will serve Bloomington and Victoria County residents with special needs and medical special needs because there are not enough available ambulances to transport that population.

The 20,000-square-foot gym facility could provide seating for about 800 people with restrooms, a kitchen area and dressing rooms for all sports.

The issue passed unanimously. County Judge Don Pozzi was absent.

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