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Columbia Elementary safe room project delayed due to mine shaft - KOAM TV 7

Columbia Elementary safe room project delayed due to mine shaft

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The Joplin School District has opened 10 new safe rooms in the past year and four more are on the way.

However, the project at Columbia Elementary has been delayed a few months due to a mine shaft being discovered beneath the site.

Parents, like Kim Satterlee, are anxious for the new safe room at Columbia Elementary to open.

"I wish it would have gone in a more timely fashion," Satterlee said.

Work on the $2.4 million project began in July, but came to a halt when crews discovered evidence of mining activity underneath where a breezeway will be constructed connecting the safe room to the school.

"When you hit those, you just have to stop," said Mike Johnson, Director of Construction for Joplin Schools.  "You get the engineers, architects and everybody involved and you start your due process. It just takes time."

Johnson estimates the cost of capping the mine shaft will be around $15,000 or less.

"We received the design, sent it out to the contractors and we're waiting on the return," Johnson said.

Staff members at Columbia Elementary say although the mine shaft has temporarily delayed construction, they are just grateful to be getting the safe room at all.

"We've got a good game plan of how we're going to progress from here, so then we'll be able to move forward," said Sarah Mwangi, principal.  "We should see walls going up sometime in March."

The project is now slated for completion by mid-summer, but officials say the structure could be used as a shelter before that, this spring, if needed.

Once the structure is storm-ready, they plan to create a path through the remaining construction.

"Just on a rare occasion, to dash in there if there was a storm coming," Johnson said. "I think it would give them a temporary safe refuge for the kids."

A refuge that will be permanent by next school year, which Satterlee says brings her peace of mind.

"I do feel more comfortable knowing that they will have this option to go into that safe room if I couldn't get here," she said.

Crews are scheduled to resume construction at the site within the next couple weeks.
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