Despite the many past and potential natural disasters, Randolph County does not have a safe room for the community. As an emergency management training center and as an integral part of the county activity, Black River Technical College is an ideal location to create a safe room.
Placing a safe room on a college campus is no new idea nor is designing a safe room to architecturally be used for other purposes. The list below identifies a number of multipurpose safe rooms:
- ASU Mid-South, 34,650 square-foot safe room designed as a gymnasium with expandable bleachers, concessions, and locker rooms with a training room, laundry room, classrooms and offices which can hold approximately 700 people. The connected weather warning system automatically unlocks doors and turns on the facilities’ lights when the weather alarm sounds.
- Vilonia Primary School, 4,567-square-foot safe room designed as 3 classrooms which can hold 700 students. It was built to withstand winds up to 250 mph and enable future growth. The generator system will automatically unlock the doors if tornado sirens sound after school hours.
Why a Safe Room at Black River Technical College, Pocahontas?
BRTC is the hub of a number of college and community gatherings which draw residents of the surrounding counties including Clay, Lawrence, and Randolph. In fact, many Lawrence and Randolph County Chamber of Commerce annual events are held at the college’s Randolph County Development Center, the only community center in Pocahontas.
- Agri Appreciation Expo, hosting more than 450 attendees
- Business Expo & Job Fair & Health Fair, hosting more than 200 attendees in 2018
- Community health fairs such as the BRTC Health Fair which brings in more than 400 attendees
- High school student tours of the campus and competitions
- Cultural events such as Black History Month speakers and Holocaust Survivor Series speakers which bring in up to more than 1400 school children, community members, and college students
- BRTC graduations bring in more than 700 attendees at a time
- Local school proms, baccalaureates, and other school events
- Red Cross Blood drives
- City and county elections
BRTC Law Enforcement Training Academy Barracks
At Black River Technical College, one facility sorely needed is a training barracks for the Law Enforcement Training Academy (LETA) cadets. Currently, cadets are sent to BRTC from all over the state of Arkansas. In many cases, traveling to and from home every day after class is not feasible. Therefore, students must reside in facilities provided by the college. Because no on-campus facilities exist to house cadets, local hotels are rented for the semester at a great cost.
BRTC has long sought to build a barracks to house cadets at a minimal cost. The revised initial project budget and the schematic above describe the previously proposed barracks facility. However, combining a safe room and barracks into one is a much more functional and versatile choice.
Proposed Safe Room Facility Functions
The proposed $3.5 million community safe facility will serve in all of the following capacities:
- Barracks for cadets during police academy sessions;
- Community outreach space during health and wellness events;
- Disaster response training and center;
- A safe room for displaced residents during disasters; and
- The Randolph County FEMA Disaster Response Command Center.