Crockett ISD uses FEMA grant to build safe shelter that doubles as a new gym

Published: Oct. 1, 2013 at 2:10 AM CDT
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CROCKETT, TX (KTRE) - For the past 4 years Crockett ISD has been building a new multi-purpose facility for their students and the community.

The Andrew J. Hopkins Dome is more than just a gym it's also a safe shelter in case of a disaster.

You can't miss it when you're driving around the loop in Crockett, it's a massive dome-shaped structure right next to Crockett High School and it's more than just a new gym for the campus.

"This is a monolithic dome and if you've looked around this but it's mostly steel and concrete. It's sort of like a bomb shelter," said Crockett ISD Superintendent, Dr. Douglass Moore. "It withstands 500 MPH wind impact and the doors are 300 MPH wind impact doors. It's got over a quarter million pounds of steel in it and a whole lot of concrete.

Moore says he was looking for a way to finance a new gym and heard about a unique way to get the funds.

"It's a tornado building t hat was provided to us by FEMA. We applied for the grant about 4 years ago," said Moore.

The district used more than $3 million in grant money from FEMA to build the safe shelter.

"We can be in here up to 72 hours or longer according to what the school district has to provide," said Moore. "We've got alternative electricity going to be provided so the lights everything the air whatever you have won't go off."

"I feel safe in here that's for sure," said Moore.

Businesses and the community donated the rest of the money to finish the $4.9 million facility.

Brookshire Brothers representatives made a $10,000 donation to the project at the school board meeting Monday.

"Overall I think he most important things I think it ought to give our community pride if you look in here you'll see a lot of things that people gave to the district for this to happen," said Moore.

And what's even more special about the dome is who it's named after, Andrew J. Hopkins.

"Coach Hopkins was a gentleman that worked here of think 57 years in the district," said Moore.

The facility has been named after Andrew J. Hopkins, a longtime Crockett ISD educator, coach, and so much more.   A.J. earned his Bachelor's & Master's Degree from Prairie View A&M College and was All American in football for 4 years at Prairie View.  He was drafted by Chicago Bears Football and Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball, both within the same year.  Andrew was also drafted by the Army where he served as a Flight Traffic Clerk.  He returned home and married.  A.J. has 7 children, 22 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.  His 1st teaching position was at Mount Pleasant High School.  He then taught at Williams High for 2 years.  Next he came to Crockett Colored/Ralph J. Bunche/Crockett High School.  During this time he became Athletic Director taking numerous teams to state and winning in all three sports.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Prairie View in 1989.  Team mates call him Hippo-Hop, friends call him Hop, some call him Fessor, Coach, or Mr. Hopkins

The community is invited to attend a dedication and grand opening ceremony at the dome this Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM.

It's located at Crocket ISD, 1400 SW Loop 304, Crockett, TX

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