Potential church relief shelter causes controversy

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VERSAILLES, Ky (WTVQ) – The city of Versailles is considering building a large shelter that will double as a church.

According to Mayor Brian Traugott, First Baptist Church came asked the city for help to get federal funding for a tornado shelter that would also be a place of worship.

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The church offered a plot of their land close to the city that they believed would be a good location for the 1.2 million dollar project.

Mayor Traugott says he liked the location because it’s by Versailles Housing Authority.

About 480 homes reside in that areas with lots of households that do not have a designated place of safety in their home to wait out a storm.

Others argue that this could be a waste of money and of federal taxpayer dollars.

This part of the state is not prone to tornadoes like areas in the South and Midwest.

In the last 30 to 40 years, the area has seen about 10 tornadoes.

According to weather experts, that sort of severe weather doesn’t give much warning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s about 13 minutes at most, which wouldn’t give a handful of people enough time to retreat to the shelter.

An out of state organization called Freedom From Religion Foundation was contacted by a citizen who was upset about the shelter plans.

Chris Line a staff attorney believes a city should indeed built a shelter if needed but not one connected to a church.

“Whether you are religious or anything, tax payer dollars going to a church is inappropriate and not how we do certain things in America. If the city really wants a storm shelter they should build a storm shelter that is not owned by a church that is not on church property and is owned by the city,” says Chris Line, a staff attorney for Freedom From Religion Foundation.

According to the First Baptist Church, this investment would be a great service to the community, allowing the city to have a disaster relief center.

If the grant is awarded, work can begin within 90 days of announcement.

A decision is expected to be made relatively soon but construction would take until a year.