published Monday, May 20th, 2013

Sequatchie County plans multipurpose building at Griffith Elementary

Sequatchie County, Tenn., school officials soon will add a multipurpose building to Griffith Elementary School that will house the elementary students' physical education classes and serve as a practice facility for the school system's athletic teams.

Assistant Director of Schools Pete Swafford said Friday that Griffith's student population of 900 is pressing the school's physical education class space, and sports teams need a dry facility for practicing in bad weather.

Griffith "has a gym that was built for a 300-student school," Swafford said.

Besides hosting physical education classes during school time, Swafford said, the building after hours would become a true "multiuse" facility.

Swafford said a "ballpark" cost for the building is around $1 million.

"It'll have turf in it from the 30-yard line to the 30-yard line, so a football team can work out in there," he said. The building also will be equipped with a baseball diamond and outfitted with netting for baseball and softball practice.

"It doesn't look like a traditional gym," he said of the plans. "When you walk in it's going to look like a football practice facility."

Officials said plans also call for a new road for access to the building and to ease traffic congestion around the schools.

Director of Schools Johnny Cordell said the project will funded by reserves that originally had been earmarked for a new school. Enrollment growth, though, has stalled in the last few years, putting the new school idea on the back burner.

Cordell said that before the new school idea arose a few years back, the plan was to build a new gym for Griffith.

He said the multipurpose building will be cheaper to build than a new gym, and students at the middle and high schools will get use out of it, too.

Cordell said the system has let bids on site preparation, and bidding construction of the facility will be the next step.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and at twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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