The Dawson County Board of Education voted 4-0 at the Jan. 11 meeting to sign a contract with the American Red Cross for use of school facilities in case disaster strikes.
Dawson County Director of Emergency Services Billy Thurmond asked board members to consider the proposal in a work session Jan. 5.
The agreement allows the Red Cross to use the high school and both middle schools for shelters in an emergency situation.
The contract trumps a verbal agreement Dawson County Emergency Services has had with the school system for the past several years regarding the use of its facilities.
Thurmond said the Red Cross will manage the shelters at no cost to the school district. Ideal shelter facilities include the high school and middle schools, because they have “a large area such as a gym, and shower and restroom facilities.”
The Red Cross running the shelters will “free up all my people,” Thurmond said, “so we don’t have to run it. [The Red Cross] provides everything we need in a shelter.”
Thurmond said the plan is to spread shelters throughout the county in case disaster strikes. He plans to go to several churches and the board of commissioners soon to ask them to sign similar Red Cross agreements.
“If we can get enough spread throughout the county...the more shelters we can designate, the better we’ll be able to take care of those people, and not try to have an overwhelming number of people at one site,” Thurmond said.
Superintendent Keith Porter said housing shelters at the high school and middle schools would be an opportunity “for us to give back to our community in a time when there would be great trouble.”