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School board approves Weaver boundary move, looks at construction manager position

Rick Wagner • Oct 1, 2018 at 10:47 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Out with the old property, in with the new construction manager.

Sullivan County school leaders hope they’ve finally closed the books on the sale of the old Weaver Elementary School property, which was finalized Friday. However, they’re also looking forward to the construction of the new West Ridge High School, set to open in the fall of 2020, by considering approval for the hiring of a construction manager for that project near Exit 63 of Interstate 81.

The board in a called meeting Thursday voted 6-0, with Matthew Spivey absent, to approve an amended sales agreement for the Weaver property that changes the property boundaries slightly and considered a draft job description for a contract position to be construction manager of the new high school, with a vote to approve creating the temporary position with no benefits to be held at the Tuesday, Oct. 2, regular board meeting.

DOES A REDRAWN FENCE LINE PROPERTY BOUNDARY MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?

”We’ve got this wrestled to the ground,” board attorney Pat Hull said of the disposal of the surplus Weaver property, which seems to have had more twists and turns than an afternoon soap opera. The board took sealed bids on the property and ended up selling the school and some land for a potential sourdough bread making facility, another section to become an expansion for the Weaver Cemetery and two small parcels to adjoining residential property owns.

Originally, the bakery wanted all the property, but eventually A&B officials agreed to buy just part of the property, and later using part of it for an assisted living facility was discussed. Rezoning will be required for bread making or assisted living.

Hull Thursday provided the board with the final copy of the sales agreement finalized Friday with signatures of A&B Holdings LLC represented by Blain Lewis, who bought the school building and about five acres of land; adjoining property owner Earl Pearce; and school board Chairman Michael Hughes. The agreement would shift the property boundaries between the land A&B is buying and the parcel Pearce already owns.

Pearce’s old Rader’s Store property and some adjoining buildings include one that is on the edge of what had been the surveyed property line, with the overhang actually over the surveyed property line. The issue also called into question a septic system on the school side serving the Pearce property. Both sides and the school system have agreed to move the property line slightly toward the school to follow a fence line Pearce maintains is the correct property line. The land in question is a narrow strip, steep and of no practical use other than a barrier and fill bed area, Hull said.

The board discussed the matter and got Hull’s report during a work session and then voted on the new agreement during a called meeting immediately following the work session.

WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION MANAGER?

During the work session, the board discussed but took no action on the high school construction manager position. The creation of the position is on the agenda for the Tuesday board meeting.

The board reviewed a draft  of the job description for the construction manager, who would receive no health insurance, retirement or other benefits, with pay to be determined. The person would answer to Maintenance and Facilities Supervisor Charlie Hubbard, who is the program manager for West Ridge and the new East Middle School, the latter of which is to open in the fall of 2019.

Hubbard said he needs help with the high school project because of its size (to accommodate 1,700 students versus 800 at the middle school) and his duties overseeing custodians and maintenance. The person in the new position would report to Hubbard and might have to be available to answer questions at school board meetings. Human Resources Supervisor Wendell Smith and Hubbard are to be involved in the hiring process, Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said.

Some Sullivan County officials had proposed a construction manager for both school projects be hired and overseen jointly by the school board and county government, but Hughes maintains that would be illegal under court rulings and that the school board had authority over the construction projects.

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