TEMPLE, TX — Just over 9,000 Bell County residents walked through the doors of the Sammons Community Center in Temple for a shot at beating the coronavirus. Now those same doors have a large closed sign taped to them.
The community center is one of the city’s historic landmarks, then in January, with the help from the county, it turned into a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
“They've done an amazing job, they're been so efficient,” said James Stafford, the public information officer for Bell County. “If you've had a chance to see that vaccination center in action, people would walk in and be amazed at how quickly they were able to move through it.”
Stafford says the center ran smoothly for the few weeks it was open. However, it suffered damage during the winter storm, forcing the clinic to shut down completely.
Officials with the City of Temple explain that the whole building isn’t closed. The city government will continue to hold city council meetings there, something they’ve been doing for more space to abide by COVID-related safety guidelines.
“You know, we have been a vaccination site here and unfortunately, due to the damage to the building, that's no longer going to be the case,” said Emily Parks, the city’s communications and public relation manager.
Pipes in the ceiling burst, resulting in flooding and floors that need to dry out.
”We've had the floors assessed, and I think that we're going to be fortunate to not have to repair flooring,” Parks said. “So we're excited about that, but there are some areas of the building that are unusable”
She says the repairs should only take about a month to accomplish, but she’s unsure if they’ll reopen the center for vaccinations.
“We look at what our backups are and what solutions do we have to offer,” Parks said. “That's what we're going to continue to work with the county on, on how can we continue to help? How can we continue to be a partner?”
The county says they’re unsure if the center will be utilized for vaccines again, too. However, they’re assuring that everyone who had appointments at the Sammons Center, as well as all residents who want a vaccine, will be vaccinated.
“We're not going to let any vaccines go to waste,” Stafford said “We're making sure that we're putting in the arms of people that are eligible and looking to get vaccinated.”
Stafford says those with appointments at the Sammons Center will now be seen at the Bell County Expo Center.