CENTRAL CITY, Neb. — Central City thinks outside the box with a well rounded facility that's the first of its kind in the state as the high school opens its new dome.
“This is as good as a college.”
This mom can’t believe it as she sees where her son will play.
“Holy buckets, this is awesome,” Donnette Van Pelt remarked as she scoped out the new gym that’s beyond her expectations.
“This is amazing. It is state of the art. I was shocked when I came in here,” Van Pelt said.
It’s a wide open space to watch a basketball or volleyball game. “It almost has that arena feel,” said Superintendent Jeff Jensen.
There are other domes but none like this.
“We are the first in the state with a monolithic safe room dome structure,” Jensen explained.
And the words safe room are key, qualifying it for federal funds.
“When you have that alternate money you use it,” Jensen said.
He played college football in a dome but can't take credit.
“This wasn't my idea. We took the baton and got to the finish line. It was a crazy board member at 2 o’clock in the morning that needed to go to bed,” he said with a laugh.
CENTRAL CITY THINKS OUTSIDE THE BOX, AS SCHOOL ASKS VOTERS TO INVEST IN KIDS
That school board member figured out how to build something voters had rejected as FEMA covers more than half of the $7.7 million price tag.
“$4 million coming to Central City, Nebraska is kind of like winning the lottery,” Jensen said.
The Bison Activity Dome can seat around 2,100 which is far more than their old gym. That will allow them to host district meets they couldn't handle before.
“We never would have dreamt we'd have this, and it even doubles as a tornado shelter so that's another plus,” Van Pelt said.
Around 2,800 could take shelter in the reinforced concrete structure. It opened to kids this week and will host its first events in December including wrestling and basketball.
In addition to FEMA funds, the community stepped up with $750,000. It doesn't come at the expense of academics. That was part of an earlier phase that has seen nearly every inch of the campus overhauled.
“For little Central City, Nebraska this is pretty awesome to have in our community,” Van Pelt said.
The superintendent says they've had so much interest they've been asked to present the concept to others in Nebraska.
Jensen said it was a 32-month process to work with FEMA and it took 20 months of construction for a timeline of four years. He said FEMA was quick to reimburse costs. The school had several bids and awarded the contract to Genesis Contracting of Lincoln.