From staff reports
Nanih Waiya Attendance Center held a grand opening ceremony for the first and newest certified county storm shelter.
The 6,600 square foot safe room will serve as a cafeteria for Nanih Waiya Attendance Center during clear weather days.
With state and area dignitaries along with a crowd of local attendees of about 150 persons, the Louisville Municipal School District officially opened the storm shelter and cafeteria.
The new cafeteria will hold more students than the 1962 cafeteria it replaces, but more importantly the building will act as a safe room for students, faculty, staff and county residents when serious weather approaches. The $1.3 million FEMA and MEMA approved project will hold up to 648 persons under federal standards.
Nanih Waiya Principal Belinda Swart who was a Nanih Waiya graduate in 1988 welcomed everyone, “I am truly excited about this event.”
Swart introduced former Nanih Waiya Principal Gale Gregory who was a Nanih Waiya school graduate in 1963. Gregory gave the invocation followed by the pledge and National Anthem from Mr. and Miss Nanih Waiya 2016-17.
Mark Dillard, who represents District 2 on the LMSD board, which includes Nanih Waiya, gave the welcoming address and recognized the many persons who helped kick off the project and bring it to fruition.
“This event would not be possible without the vision from leaders of the community,” said Dillard. “Today’s ribbon cutting event highlights the effective and ongoing partnership the Louisville Municipal School District has with all levels of government. “
Dillard recognized the Supervisor Luke Parkes, Former school board member Bobby Moody and EMA director Buddy King along with Rep. Michael Ted Evans, Rep. Joey Hood, Mayor Will Hill, former Senator Giles Ward and former Board of Trustee members, Betty Byrd, Cathy Edwards and Bobby Moody.
“I want to express my gratitude to Superintendent Ken McMullan and my fellow members of the Louisville Municipal School District Board of Trustees for their support in this worthwhile project. I know I speak for all the families that make up the Nanih Waiya Attendance Center family when I say thank you for your sincere concern for our students, staff and community. Thank you for making the safety of our children a priority,” added Dillard.
Superintendent Ken McMullan also recognized some key individuals involved in bring the storm shelter and cafeteria to Nanih Waiya. He recognized Buddy King, Rep. Michael Ted Evans and Winston County Supervisor Luke Parkes.
“This will replace a 1962 built cafeteria which Gale Gregory ate in as a senior in high school,” said McMullan noting the need for the new building.
“Now our students will be eating in one of the nicest and safest storm shelter in the country,” added McMullan. “this project took time but today we have something most do not have.”
Winston County Emergency Management Director Buddy King who helped initiate the storm shelter/ cafeteria project noted that the building was the first certified storm shelter in Winston County.
“Winston County does have a significant history of tornado impacts, so we know how to respond,” said Buddy King. “648 persons is how many this building is rated to hold but I know we can get more than that in here… People will have sanctuary here.”
Mississippi Emergency Management Director Lee Smithson congratulated the community on the shelter as another milestone in the recovery from the 2014 tornado.
District 45 Rep. Michael Ted Evans recognized those who got the ball rolling on the project and thanked all involved.
“We needed this for our students,” said Evans. “If tornado is coming I know people can be safe here.”
Evans also introduced Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant noting her caring and big heart for all Mississippians.
“She is a mother to Mississippi,” said Evans. “She cares about the people of our state.”
Bryant recalled her days helping in Winston County after the 2014 tornado and those who work so hard to make the county and state better.
District 35 Rep. Joey Hood, District 18 Senator Jenifer Branning also addressed the crowd at the event prior to the ribbon cuttings.