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School board launches building project by hiring architects

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By The Staff

By CINDY SIMPSON

csimpson@roanecounty.com

Roane County Board of Education acted quickly on starting its proposed building program by hiring architects recommended for individual building projects.

The county allotted $32 million from monies given by TVA as an apology for the fly ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant last year.

“I felt like we needed to have a meeting and get on with it,” said chairman Mike  “Brillo” Miller during a special-called board session last week.

The school board also added to the plan. They want to complete construction of Midway Middle School’s cafeteria, if funds allow.

Board members explained that Midway Middle School was built in the early 2000s with school funds, and money ran out before the cafeteria could be completed.

“We’d all like to see Midway cafeteria built down there,” Miller said.

Recommended architects hired include Cope & Associates for the Kingston, Oliver Springs and Harriman area projects. Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris was hired for the Midway area projects, and Cockerill Design was retained for the Rockwood area projects.

Along with a number of renovations, the building plan includes closing Walnut Hill Elementary and Dyllis Elementary and construction of a new school between Dyllis and Oliver Springs Elementary.

School board member Frank Mee expressed concern about closing Walnut Hill, primarily because of the increase in students at Bowers Elementary after Walnut Hill students are shifted there.

One concern was the need to make the building more handicap accessible.

“I do have a lot of reservations about putting 200, 250 students at Bowers,” Mee said. “They are also coming through there with a four-lane highway.”

Ruritan Road, where Bowers is located, will be expanded from two lanes to five lanes, one of which will be a center turn lane.

Co-chairman Darrell  “Drack” Langley, who represents Harriman, also said he hates to see Walnut Hill closed. He did, however, say he thinks the plan was the way to go.

The  “county commission didn’t want to spend money there,” Langley said.

Walnut Hill, which sits literally on a hillside in north Harriman, has its problems, including limited room to expand.

All the board members thanked TVA and the Roane County Economic Development Foundation, which disbursed the money.

School board member Everett Massengill said he is thankful the foundation recognized their need amidst all the many people that came forward needing funds.

“They went and did what is right for our kids in Roane County,” Massengill said.

The board plans to formally approve the contracts with the architects during its regular Oct. 22 meeting, after a committee negotiates the architects’ contracts, Miller said.

The board also appointed a committee to locate land for the new school to be built. That committee includes Michael Taylor, Sam Cox, Schools Director Toni Mc-Griff, Wade McCullough and Hugh Johnson.

A time frame was also established to have a work session followed by a special-called meeting on Nov. 2 to look at the initial recommendation on sites and cost.

A meeting to look at preliminary plans and estimated costs was also discussed for Nov. 19.

Miller said the reason the different architect groups were recommended is because they were involved in the when the system first began discussing a building plan.

“When we got into this building program we appointed these people to look at these individual sites,” Miller said.