NEOSHO, Mo. — Construction work on an elementary school and community safe room in Newton County is making progress. Ground was broken back in early June of this year on a structure at Benton Elementary in Neosho. It’s designed to keep students and local residents safe during severe weather.

But Ritchie Fretwell says the building will be in use even when the weather isn’t severe.

“We will have two early childhood classrooms, a multipurpose room, and this will also be a community FEMA shelter that when we do have storms, the doors will unlock and we’ll allow our patrons to enter for safety,” said Ritchie Fretwell, Assistant Superintendent of Operations.

Fretwell says construction is expected to wrap up after the first of the year. He says a FEMA Grant is picking up 1.8 million of the total $3 million price tag, with the district picking up the rest.