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Gibson County Elementary School Opens Safe Room

By Empriss Campbell
By ecampbell@wbbjtv.com

A West Tennessee school is debuting a place where everyone in the community can feel safe through all types of weather.

Gibson county held a ribbon cutting ceremony Sunday at Kenton Elementary school introducing a new safe house.

The safe house was built to keep students and residents safe during severe weather.

The room looks like a regular classroom, but when the doors close it's a concrete box built to keep students and community residents safe if severe weather comes.

"The entire structure is 8 inches of reinforced concrete ceilings, walls and floors. So, were in a concrete box when everything is closed up," said Renee Childs, Principal of Kenton of Elementary School.

Gibson County is gearing up for tornado season by debuting a safe room at Kenton Elementary school.

The safe room includes four classrooms and a set of private bathrooms.

"Each classroom has one window that lets in that natural sunlight but when they're closed the become a bolted...a 3 way bolted steel shuttered window. So, this whole structure including the windows and the doors are made to withstand up to a F5, which would be a 250 mile hour wind," said Principal Childs.

The room can hold more than 700 people including students and local residents.

"I feel it's a wonderful addition. We've seen scenes from TV from Joplin, Missouri and now in Oklahoma last night, and this is a tremendous asset for our community," said Dana Williams.

The safe room will be open to the rest of the community for 24 hours after a weather warning.

"There will be a beacon out here and it will go off. City officials, we have keys in a box. The city official has to open the door to the public," said Virginia Davidson, Mayor of Kenton.

In the meantime, students will be able to occupy the class rooms during the school year.