By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
The Rutherford County School Board unanimously approved a request from the County Commission’s Public Safety Committee to build a trio public health and safety buildings on three pieces of property located at Rockvale, Christiana and Walter Hill elementary schools.
Each building will contain a pair of fire and ambulance bays with equipment.
The stations — there are two others not involving school property — will also be equipped with communication equipment that contains a new truncated radio system along with a tornado shelter capable of withstanding an F-4 tornado. The commission has referred to the 11,000 square foot facilities as “a health hub for the community.”
“There are other things you can get into,” said Director of Schools Bill Spurlock, who mentioned “our health department could do immunizations there.”
Spurlock later added, “At Rockvale Elementary there will be opportunities for students through the EMT program for work-based learning. It’s always good when we can do those kinds of things.”
For this project, the County Commission and its Public Safety Committee members targeted rural parts of the county.
“That’s the purpose for the tornado shelter,” explained Trey Lee, assistant superintendent for engineering and construction with Rutherford County Schools. “You get out into these rural areas, and you have folks that live in modular homes that don’t have a place to go, that’s one of the things they’re looking for — ways to help the county.”
It is an improvement in terms of public safety by cutting down on the runtimes for both fire and ambulance calls those areas of the county.
“Yeah, lot of rural areas are just serviced by volunteers,” said School Board Chairman Coy Young, who lives in Lascassas. “This actually gives us an opportunity to have trained professionals there all the time, so it’s a win-win situation for our county.”
The district is only responsible for allocating space — up to one-and-a-half acres — for each of the buildings.
Lee, who mentioned there has been “a lot of coordination” between the committee and the school district, has been working with the county’s architectural firm regarding site drawings to ensure entrances to the new public health and safety buildings do not conflict with existing entrances to the schools.
They also looked at utility connections.
At the Rockvale Elementary location, the county will be able to tie directly into the new sewer system, Lee said, that was put in when the middle school was opened in 2008. Both other schools — Christiana and Walter Hill — use a self, single-source pump station similar to the system installed at the newly opened Plainview Elementary.
“The county would be looking to tie into that,” Lee said. “They haven’t gotten far enough along into their designs yet to see if there would need to be any kind of upgrade to that pump station, but, if there was, I’m sure they would be willing to work with us.”