Storm shelters now open
Franklin County Times
The City of Russellville now has two additional locations for residents to seek shelter in the event of foul weather.
The units, which are placed next to the Ralph Bishop Center and at the old Reedtown Junior High School between Stuck and Green Street, are now available for public use.
"The doors will be opened anytime a tornado watch is issued," Russellville Mayor Johnny Brown said. The city elected to change its policy from opening only during a tornado warning in order to give local residents more time to seek shelter.
"If you've got a fast moving tornado, by the time they issue the warning, it may already be too late," Brown said. "A warning may last several hours, so that gives people plenty of time to get here. Plus, they don't have to drive in the worst part of the storm."
Fire Chief Joe Mansell and Police Chief Chris Hargett said someone from each department would unlock the units as a tornado watch is issued.
"We'll actually have personnel at the shelters once the warning is issued," Hargett said. "We'll be patrolling the shelters during the watch, stopping and checking in on the people there, but we'll have fire and police personnel inside the facility when a warning is put into effect."
Mansell said the two new facilities were an answer to providing storm protection at opposite ends of the city.
"We've got the courthouse but if you're on fringes of the city, you've got to travel a pretty good ways to get there," he said. "And there were some people who had complained about getting stopped by the train. That's solved. Now we've got shelters on both sides of the tracks."
The shelters were purchased with grant funding with help from the county Emergency Management Agency.
Currently, the city has set a policy that both facilities are smoke free and pets will not be allowed at either shelters.
"Smoking is a health issue for some people and if we pack the place full of pets, that takes up room for people," Brown said.