FEMA Gym Ribbon Cutting

A major Bolivar School District project, five years in the making, is completed. Around 75 people were in attendance to witness the ribbon cutting of the Bolivar Schools FEMA gym on Monday. The gym is located on the west side of the Bolivar Middle School campus and will provide a safe shelter for the BMS students and staff in the event of severe weather.

“We’re so excited about this wonderful building,” said Ben Potter, Principal at Bolivar Middle School. “The increased safety for our students and staff during inclement weather and an additional venue for evening events is a big win for all of our students, parents, and community.”

“Welcome to the first time in its 91-year history that this campus has more than one gymnasium,” said Paula Hubbert, President of the Bolivar School Board. “But most importantly, our school district’s very first FEMA storm shelter.”

The primary purpose of the facility is as a storm shelter for the BMS students and staff. But the new gym also provides the thriving Bolivar wrestling team a place to practice. The ribbon cutting took place immediately following the first practice of the BHS girls’ wrestling season.

The Bolivar School Board applied for the FEMA grant in 2019 and was the only school district awarded a grant that year. The total facility cost is $3.3 million dollars, with $1.1 million covered by the FEMA grant. The remaining $2.2 million was covered by local funds and lease purchase options. Construction of the 8,650-square-foot facility began with the ground-breaking on February 16, 2023.

During her speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, School Board President Paula Hubbert took time to recognize Dr. Richard Asbill, the superintendent of Bolivar Schools. “When the board of education interviewed you in our superintendent search, one of the many things that impressed us was that you had overseen the construction of multiple FEMA shelters in the Cassville school district. Without Dr. Asbill’s knowledge of this FEMA process and his leadership in every single step of construction, this building wouldn’t be here.” Hubbert said.

Dr. Asbill thanked many people for making this project possible, including former Bolivar Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Berry, the current Bolivar School Board, previous members of the Bolivar School Board, RE Smith Construction, and Paragon Architecture for their work on the project.