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Residents’ thoughts sought about Collins Chapel storm shelter

The Chilton County Commission does not want the residents of the Collins Chapel community to miss out on the opportunity to have their own storm shelter.

Commissioners approved a plan recently for the installation of seven new storm shelters across the county, including one at Collins Chapel Fire Department.

But Fire Chief Shawn Carlisle emailed county Administrator Connie Powell, requesting that the shelter be located somewhere other than the fire department.

Carlisle wrote in the email that the department does not have the “property nor the manpower to man the shelter.”

“We feel as if another location that has enough people to commit to the operation of the shelter would best benefit the community,” Carlisle wrote.

Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton said options other than the fire department would be limited because an arrangement to have the shelter on private property would be unlikely.

The agenda for the Monday meeting of the Commission included a recommendation to relocate the planned shelter to the New Convert community, following New Convert residents petitioning the county for a shelter.

“They’ve been after us for more than a year wanting a storm shelter,” Caton said.

Caton requested that the matter be tabled so that Commissioners could seek input from Collins Chapel residents.

Caton asked any Collins Chapel resident with an opinion about the installation of a storm shelter in the community to call the Commission office at (205) 755-1551 or Caton himself at (205) 351-2107.

“We just want to make sure the whole community feels this way,” Caton said.

If the Commission decided to continue with plans to install a shelter in Collins Chapel, but the fire department there was not a willing partner, it is unclear what would be the resolution.

Carlisle could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

To further complicate the situation, there is doubt about whether the county would be able to change its plans for the location of the shelter because the project is based on federal grant funding.

County officials said they could try to change the application to reflect the New Convert location, but there is doubt about whether such a change would be approved.

Other locations for storm shelters under the county’s plan include Cedar Grove, Enterprise, Enterprise No. 2, Gap of the Mountain No. 2, Union Grove and West Chilton No. 2 fire stations.