published Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Bradley County Schools, insurer negotiating tornado settlement

The Blue Springs Elementary School campus is under lock and key now for public safety after April 27 tornado damage. That leaves Bradley County looking for another polling place.
The Blue Springs Elementary School campus is under lock and key now for public safety after April 27 tornado damage. That leaves Bradley County looking for another polling place.
Photo by Randall Higgins.
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CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Negotiations continue between Bradley County Schools and its insurance company six months after the April 27 tornadoes destroyed or damaged several schools.

Architect Angie Lyons told the Bradley County Board of Education on Tuesday that final fire marshal approval is expected within days on the reconstruction work at Michigan Avenue Elementary School, where the gymnasium was destroyed. Then, she said, Tri-Conn Construction can begin work.

"The one component we are missing is a settlement with the insurance company," she said.

Bradley County Schools' insurance is provided by Tennessee Risk Management Trust, an insurance pool covering 101 school systems.

The negotiations have been slow but necessary, County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said.

"I know some folks have questions about why we haven't started on this," he said. "When we get going, the final product will be one of those things where something terrible happened but things will be better than they were before."

Contractor Casson Conn, of Tri-Conn Construction, said the same waiting-for-the-settlement status applies to Blue Springs Elementary, which was nearly demolished by a tornado.

"Somehow we have got to meet in the middle," Conn said. "We are working with the insurance company's engineers and their funding."

Recently McDaniel, Lyons and Conn did a four-hour walk-through inspection with insurance company engineers at the Blue Springs building. They and other school board members will meet again Friday with insurance representatives.

"To do this right, and take the proper steps, really means dollars for the community," Conn said.

On Tuesday, the school board also approved installing 60 Leyland cypress trees as a buffer between some homes and the site for a new Blue Springs school. The cost is $2,080.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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