The Tuscaloosa County Commission unanimously approved the use of federal funds to build a second storm shelter in Samantha, a town in northern Tuscaloosa County, during their regular bi-weekly meeting Wednesday morning.

The county authorized giving $81,000 from American Rescue Plan Act Revenue Loss Replacement Funds to the Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority to purchase and install a 65-person community safe room that will supplement the already-existing 48-person shelter approved by the commission in 2016.

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The funds will cover the cost of a concrete pad, building the shelter, installation and utility hookups. If costs exceed what was approved Wednesday, any overage will be covered by Community Development funds from District 1 County Commissioner Stan Acker, as long as the full commission OKs the spending.

The new shelter will be located on the grounds of PARA's Northside Park in Samantha, between Northside Middle and Walker Elementary schools. PARA employees will work with the Tuscaloosa County Road and Bridge Department to make the site ready and aid in the shelter's installation.

"We want to provide as much safety and security as we can," District 1 Commissioner Stan Acker said during the meeting.

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