Every school year, Empire School performs two tornado drills.
Up to this point, those drills have required elementary and pre-kindergarten students to take shelter in the school district’s cellar, and high school students to take refuge in the high school hallways.
But the school district won’t have to wait much longer and it will have a new place for students to go. The school moving toward the completion of its storm shelter, which will also have two pre-kindergarten classrooms attached to it.
“We’re hoping to be done by the end of September, beginning of October,” Empire Elementary Principal Josh Skiles said.
The project has been in the works since August 2012, but it wasn’t until February 2013, that work began on the construction of the safe room. About 75 percent of the safe room is being paid by a FEMA grant, while the school is paying for the remaining 25 percent.
Skiles said the project is one schedule, if not ahead.
“The safe room is structurally up,” Skiles said. “The next time we have kids here, we’ll be able to get into it for safety.”
The pre-kindergarten classrooms will allow for more upgrades in technology for the two classes at Empire. Both classrooms will have SmartBoards and will have all new furnishings. Both classes will be able to hold up to 20 pre-kindergarten students.
Empire Superintendent Vicki Davison said the safe room will have a kitchenette and will have water stored in case of an emergency. Davison said the safe room isn’t only for tornado protection, although it will be able to withstand 318 mile per hour winds, including a direct hit.
She said if there is a wild fire and the school is unable to evacuate, the students would be taken to the safe room.
“We may have to go in there and just hunker down until it passes,” Davison said. “We’re going to equip it to where that can happen.”
The safe room will also be used for some PE activities, although it will not be made into a gym. And the school’s new after-school archery program will utilize the space.
The community will also have an opportunity to use the safe room after hours.
Skiles said one of his favorite parts of the safe room project is the pre-kindergarten students will never have to go outside in a situation involving threatening weather. He said the pre-k students will be able to enter a corridor from their classrooms and head straight into the safe room.
And the safe room will be large enough to fit all elementary and high school students.
“If we have a lot of parents come, the cellar is still available,” Skiles said.
Aside from the safe room, Skiles said there are still some enrollment spaces available at Empire, including some spots for pre-kindergarten students. Forms for enrollment will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Superintendent’s Office.
The elementary office will reopen Aug. 1, and the first day of school is set for Aug. 20.
Skiles said the pre-kindergarten rooms won’t be ready in time for the first day of school. Instead, the classes will use the current classrooms until the new rooms are completed and furnished.
After that point, the teachers will move some personal items, and the classes will start learning in the new classrooms.
“We’ll get them in as early as we can,” Davison said.
Every school year, Empire School performs two tornado drills.
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Winter weather continues
Temperatures dropped to 10 degrees. Freezing rain and snow fell, covering roads and yards. Through all of it, one thing was certain: Winter weather had come to Duncan.
In fact, about 0.23 inches of precipitation fell between 10:30 a.m. Thursday and about 9 a.m. Friday. By Friday afternoon, snow drifts ranged from about 2 inches up to 4 inches. And high temperatures leveled out at 25 degrees.
Museum on track for holidays
Although watching car after car go by while waiting for the caboose to pass at a railroad crossing is usually inconvenient, there is something almost mesmerizing about a model train going round and round a track.
In the past, many a family Christmas tree was accompanied by a model train at its base. In Duncan, one woman set up an entire Christmas village, complete with train, at her home and opened it up to the public. That scene has now been recreated by the Stephens County Historical Museum.
Duncan FD battles blaze
Snow fell Friday, but Duncan firefighters stayed warm by the heat of a structure fire.
About 10 firefighters responded to a blaze around 10:30 a.m. Friday in the 100 block of South Fourth Street. A structure, just south of Main Street, was fully involved.
The building was across Fourth Street from Southwest Foods. The fire was contained to the one building.
Abigail Smith sends her final goodbye through online video
Though a community is grieving this weekend over the loss of Abigail Smith, those who knew her the best, know she is free from the pain of cancer.
Abigail was diagnosed in early 2012, with Synovial Cell Sarcoma, but “won” her battle early Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Some people may not see her death as a win, but Abigail, 24, never wavered in her mission to live life to its fullest. She always exuded the positive message of being a survivor.
Armitstead tackles next challenge at Christians Concerned
Barbara Armitstead came out of retirement to lend help to one of Duncan’s non-profit ventures.
Armitstead is the new executive director of Christians Concerned. Her first day with the United Way agency was Monday. She’s taking over the position recently vacated by Kassie Gilmore.
“I’m very excited about it,” Armitstead said. “It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
City Council to discuss possible improvement for Data Center
To improve the City of Duncan’s Data Center, the Duncan City Council may approve purchasing a server virtualization solution.
This purchase, if approved, would improve the performance and capacity of the Data Center. The server virtualization solution would cost $76,003.17 and would be purchased from CDW Logistics.
Golden Corral building remains vacant
In November 2012, Duncan’s Golden Corral closed its doors, leaving its building vacant on U.S. Highway 81.
More than a year later, the building still doesn’t have a new business. And it’s not the only building in such a condition. Buildings previously home to Hastings Entertainment and Goodies also remain vacant.
The gift of giving
Many young people have made out their list for Christmas, however, 11 Duncan Middle School students recently experienced the joy of giving rather than receiving.
Before Christmas each year, Love in Action, an organization through Eastside Church of Christ, makes aprons out of holiday themed fabric to take to nursing homes. This year, the group wasn’t able to purchase the fabric.
Jimmy’s Egg to arrive in March
Jimmy’s Egg is coming to Duncan.
In March, the breakfast and lunch restaurant will be taking over the old Legacy Bank location, just south of the Legacy Bank on U.S. Highway 81. This adds to other recent restaurant chains that have moved into Duncan in the past 12 months, including national chain Applebees Neighborhood Grill & Bar and Oklahoma chain Interurban.
Revolvers and Rhinestones to offer mounted shooting clinic
Cowboy mounted shooting is a fast-growing sport in the United States and now the Duncan community has the opportunity to learn skills from the best.
Revolvers and Rhinestones is presenting a Cowboy Mounted Shooting Clinic Dec. 20 with instructor Curt Moore. Beginning shooters, who have never shot off their horse, will be from 1-3 p.m. and intermediate shooters, who want to refine their skills, will be from 3-5 p.m. at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center.
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- Winter weather continues