WEBB CITY, Mo. (AP) - Crowder College in southwest Missouri has broken ground on an expansion at its Webb City campus that will include a large room intended to provide the community safety during tornadoes.
The college's new building in Webb City will add a total of 22,000 square feet to the campus and is scheduled to open in fall 2014. The groundbreaking for the site was held Tuesday.
The new building will include a 9,000-square-foot safe room able to withstand an EF-5 tornado, which can pack winds of 200 mph. The safe room, which will also be available for classroom space, will be open to the community during tornadoes.
The $6 million cost of the project will be covered by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as with money from the college's building fund. Webb City businessman Jim Dawson also is leading a fundraising effort to raise $1.5 million in donations for the project.
Officials with Crowder College, a two-year community college with about 5,400 students, have said the full project also will include improvements to parking lots and roads.
Webb City is about 25 miles north of Neosho, where Crowder College's main campus is located, and a few miles north of Joplin, which was struck by an EF-5 tornado in 2011. That tornado killed 161 people and destroyed a broad swath of Joplin.