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Funding for West Ridge sports facilities up for vote Monday

J. H. Osborne • Aug 19, 2018 at 2:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — The Sullivan County Commission is expected to be asked to vote up or down Monday on allowing the school system to use $4.8 million of its estimated $11 million general fund balance to pay for athletic fields at West Ridge High School.

The Sullivan County Board of Education voted earlier this month to approve almost $59.3 million in two contracts with J.A. Street & Associates for the school. Excavation work is underway under a previously approved contract, part of $10 million already spent toward the facility, which will be built on Lynn Road, off Exit 63 of Interstate 81.

That $59.3 million figure includes the $4.8 million for the athletic fields, with nearly $54.5 going for the main constuction contract.

BOE members Mark Ireson and Jane Thomas voted against awarding the nearly $55 million main contract. Ireson also voted against the $4.8 million contract for outdoor athletic facilities, while Thomas abstained. Chairman Michael Hughes, Vice Chairman Randall Jones and Matthew Spivey, Jerry Greene and Dan Wells voted to award both bids.

The school system received roughly $87 million to fund construction of a new high school and a new middle school ($67 million from a $140 million bond issue split with Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City school systems, plus $20 million from the sale of Sullivan North High School to the city of Kingsport).

The middle school is under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 2019.

West Ridge High School is scheduled to open the following fall.

J.A. Street’s base bid was $59,720,000, including $4,808,000 for the athletic fields. The BOE-approved contract with Street for nearly $54.5 million reflects the base bid, minus the athletic fields (contracted separately), and minus an additional $438,500 in “value engineering.”

So the construction contracts appoved by the BOE to date appear not to include four “alternates” from the original bid: polished concrete ($45,0000); door hardware ($8,000); canopy autotech ($23,000); and food service equipment ($1,133,000).

The Sullivan County Commission’s Education Committee unanimously endorsed the school system’s request, in the form of a commission resolution, to use $4.8 million from the BOE’s general fund balance to pay for the athletic fields. That means the resolution will carry the group’s recommendation when it comes for a potential vote by the full Sullivan County Commission on Monday. The resolution’s sponsors have indicated they will call for a waiver of the rules and an immediate vote on the issue, meaning it will need at least 16 “yes” votes to gain approval.

The Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

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