FOUNTAIN, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County officials continue to move forward with plans for a Fountain-Youngstown Community Center. On Tuesday the county was awarded a grant for the project worth more than $9 million.

“I’m hoping it’s going to be a point of pride for them to be able to start using that and creating that sense of community,” Bay County Commissioner Doug Moore said.

Moore hopes to see family reunions, weddings and community gatherings at the center. He also expects the annual rodeo to be housed at the rec complex.

But that won’t be the center’s only function.

“It’s going to be a shelter during the storm as well,” Moore said. “It’ll be an area where we’ll probably deploy some workers and assets to be able to go out from there, but also a place hopefully where residents can go.”

Bay County Chief Infrastructure Officer Keith Bryant previously said he hopes to build new community centers that are hardened. That protects them from hurricanes. It also gives communities a place where residents can wait out severe storms in safety.

“We have a hardened place where we can centralize for everybody to be able to come, to be able to get recovery items and be able to get points of distribution for food and other things during those times,” Moore said. “It’s just it’s very much needed in that area of the community.”

Moore said the center will serve as a place for first responders to use before deploying to areas in need. The project is expected to be completed in 2024.