published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Storm reconstruction projects on track for Bradley County schools

Paul Leach/Correspondent
Bradley County's Blue Springs Elementary School was hard hit by the April 27 tornadoes.
Bradley County's Blue Springs Elementary School was hard hit by the April 27 tornadoes.
Photo by Randall Higgins.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Two Bradley County elementary schools damaged by the April 27 storms last year are approaching the final phases of reconstruction and demolition.

On Thursday, the Bradley County School Board approved a $25,000 bid by Hampton Backhoe to demolish the Blue Springs Elementary School building, but not the school's gymnasium.

"The gym is an asset to the community," said board member Troy Weathers.

The board asked that Johnny McDaniel, director of the county school system, make a formal offer to the County Commission regarding the possible purchase of the property by the county.

The site could incorporate a memorial to those members of the Blue Springs community who were lost in the devastating storms, said board member Christy Critchfield.

Weathers urged the Blue Springs community to contact their county commissioners regarding the matter.

The board expressed concerns regarding the disposal of the elementary school building materials.

According to state regulations, said KBJM Architects representative Angie Lyon, bricks and blocks could be buried on site, while drywall and wood would have to be removed.

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Officials announced that the reconstruction of the Michigan Avenue Elementary School gymnasium is ahead of schedule.

The new gym is expected to be completed by late April, said Casey Conn of Tricon Inc., the company handling the project.

Construction crews recently pulled up the old gymnasium's rubber floor, which proved to be a difficult task, said Conn. New wood floors are scheduled to be installed in the next three weeks.

Spring break will be key to the reconstruction project, said Conn. While the students are away from school, crews will step up operations, including asbestos abatement.

"Things look great," said Lyon, who said they have begun selecting paint colors for the new gym.

The school board approved a $75,000 bid by Southern Facility Sales & Service for new bleachers and athletic equipment for the gymnasium.

Conn said the building work should be completed before May.

The board also gave its approval for the school system to make an offer on a piece of property located behind Michigan Avenue Elementary School.

The property owner is asking for $25,001 plus closing costs, said school officials.

The school could possibly use the property as extra parking space, said Weathers. Space is at a premium for the school, which is partly locked in by a cemetery, Weathers said.

In other business, Lyon said the county school system should soon learn the status of three applications for Federal Emergency Agency Management grants that could amount to up to $5 million for several construction projects.

The grants, which would help offset costs for storm-resistant construction, were submitted on behalf of renovation plans for Lake Forest Middle School, a new eight-classroom pod for Walker Valley High School and a new elementary school in southern Bradley County.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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