Mountainburg School District broke ground on a more than $2.5 million saferoom and physical education room on Wednesday.

Once complete, the building will be the first and only saferoom in the Mountainburg area. Mountainburg School District is the last to have a saferoom on campus, said Brad Thomas, Crawford County Emergency Management director.

“It’s going to be one more option for people,” Thomas said. “It’s going to give people the opportunity to have a safe place to stay in case of a storm.”

Mountainburg Superintendent Dennis Copeland also expects the saferoom to have a high impact on the area, he said.

“The community can come down to it as well, and it will protect our students,” Copeland said. “We haven’t had too many tornadoes come down through here, but it’s definitely good to have a saferoom.”

Mountainburg School District was approved in 2016 for a $1.376 million Federal Emergency Management Agency matching grant to build the saferoom at the high school football field for use by the high school and middle school, Copeland said.

FEMA is paying 75 percent - about $987,000 - of the grant and the school district is paying the remaining $389,000.

Mountainburg School District also is contributing another $840,000 in grant and bond monies for project additions, Copeland said.

“The rest is going to be a field house and physical education building that we desperately need,” Copeland said.

Mountainburg Mayor Neal Moon noted that once complete, the saferoom will be the only one in the city and surrounding area.

“Especially for the seniors, it’s wonderful,” Moon said. “I’ve got a feeling it will be full a lot.”

Van Buren School District has seven saferooms, Alma School District has four, and Cedarville and Mulberry-Pleasant View school districts each have one.

MAHG Architecture was hired to design the saferoom and C.R. Crawford Construction will oversee construction of the building, Copeland said.

Construction on the project is expected to be complete by the end of April or early May, Copeland said.