published Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Walker Valley High School additions in works

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Walker Valley High School is set to receive a new eight-classroom pod, more cafeteria seating and security improvements to its entrance vestibule.

The Bradley County Board of Education recently approved a $1.49 million bid by Tri-Con Construction of Cleveland to complete the three projects, which break down to $1.218 million for the classroom pod, $243,700 for the cafeteria expansion and $27,000 for the secured entrance.

Tri-Con was one of six bidders that quoted costs between $1.2 million and $1.45 million for the classroom pod construction alone, said Angie Lyon of Kaatz, Binkley, Jones and Morris Architects Inc. of Knoxville, which serves as architectural consultant for the school system.

"Having that many bidders in that tight of a spread gives you a lot of confidence in those numbers," Lyon said.

The projects ultimately will total $1.7 million, which includes costs associated with design and contingency fees, said Rick Smith, business manager for Bradley County Schools.

They will benefit from a $1.5 million Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant, made up of $1.2 million in federal funds and a $300,000 local match. To qualify for the grant, the classroom pod has to be built to be very storm-resistant.

The pod is expected to withstand winds from an EF4 tornado, said Charlie Rose, chairman of the school board.

Smith said the final $200,000 for the projects has been requested in the 2013-14 capital outlay expenditures for Bradley County Schools.

The classroom pod and cafeteria expansion were requested because of overcrowding at the high school, officials said. Walker Valley was built for 1,200 students but now enrolls 1,500.

No launch date was announced for the project, but Lyon said work should start as soon as contracts are signed. Officials previously expressed hopes that the additions would be completed shortly after the fall break.

In other business, officials discussed gathering information for a proposed renovation of Lake Forest Middle School, which will involve replacing more than half of its 17 buildings with a central academic facility and possibly incorporating geothermal energy systems.

Lyon recommended that the school system determine what ground -- if any -- was suitable for geothermal units on Lake Forest's 75-acre campus. Costs for testing the site, including drilling to a depth up to 20 feet in some places, are estimated at $5,300.

The school board agreed to review the matter further at its June meeting.

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

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