At its meeting Tuesday night, the council agreed to pay the $58,795 for the FEMA-approved shelter on Alabama 144. The Ohatchee Fire Department was able to build the shelter through a FEMA program, but it needs to pay the costs for the structure upfront before FEMA reimburses the department.
“We got the funds to swing it, so I think we should,” said Mayor Steve Baswell at the meeting. “And we’ll just get the money when FEMA pays us back.”
Although an incorporated municipality, Ohatchee does not fund its own Fire Department, which receives money from the Calhoun County Volunteer Firefighter Association. Property tax money collected in Ohatchee is distributed to the 10 departments that compose the association.
“They’re independent of us, but we like to try and help them out when we can,” Baswell said. “We support them.”
The storm shelter, which can hold up to 90 people, was one of several built in Calhoun County through a program FEMA set up after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes.
Baswell said although the shelter is completed and ready to use, the town plans on holding an official grand opening sometime in the near future.
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.