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Empire plans renovations after tragedy

EMPIRE, Okla._It's been an incredibly difficult summer for the Empire community.

Earlier in the summer a student had committed suicide in the school's field house. On top of that shock, because the body wasn't immediately discovered, school officials were forced to throw out all their athletic equipment and re-tile the floors. The equipment alone has been about a $170,000 loss. Empire's superintendent says insurance has covered the cost.

As of now, some of the new uniforms have arrived, but they're still waiting on other non-athletic equipment to show up that also had to be replaced.

Empire’s superintendent said that people immediately started asking what they could do to help, so, they decided to go above and beyond just replacing what they had. They want to make it better and the community is now raising money to make that happen.

Superintendent Vicki Davison said the children and the staff have an emotional attachment to the old building, but it needs a new look and feel; that's where the extra fundraising comes in. After hearing the news, local residents and businesses banded together to help them out.

"The volunteer fire department stepped up and said, ‘Let us help you.’ Interurban in Duncan helped us. And our kids went and waited tables and all the tips and a percentage of the meals were donated back to help with all the expenses," said Davison.

The volunteer fire department will hold an even bigger fundraiser next Saturday. They’re planning a concert at the school's football stadium. All of the proceeds from ticket sales and the concession stands will go towards rebuilding.

"We're going to paint the outside. We're going to put some more windows in the building and bring some more light into the building. We're going to put more flooring down. We're going to change the office. When they walk in, it won't even look like the same place," said Davison.

Davison says once renovations are done, it may cost a total of $300,000. The full recovery process is scheduled to be finished by the first football game.


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