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Sullivan BOE approves funds for West Ridge rock removal, land purchase for sewer near East

Rick Wagner • Nov 7, 2018 at 9:15 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Construction delays weren’t the only news to come out of the Sullivan County school board work session and regular meeting Monday.

The opening of West Ridge High School, originally scheduled for the fall of 2020, will be delayed until the fall of 2021, while the opening of Sullivan East Middle, originally set for the fall of 2019, will be pushed back to the spring of 2020, architect Dineen West told the Board of Education at a work session. She said the delays are the result of wet weather.

“The weather has not been our friend,” Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said.

ROCK REMOVAL VOTE

The BOE approved spending more than allotted on the high school site for rock removal and spending $2,500 to buy a small piece of property just off Weaver Pike near East High School for a sewer main to serve the new middle school and eventually East High.

Rafalowski explained that the board needed to approve spending $81,335 more than originally set aside in contingency for rock removal on the West Ridge project. The money was needed to fund a change order for the preparation for footers planned to be poured in a few weeks. 

The county commission will review the rock removal spending at its work session Thursday and is to vote on the matter at its Nov. 15 meeting. 

The BOE voted 5-0, with Matthew Spivey and Mark Ireson absent, to approve funding for the rock removal.

SEWER PUMP STATION VOTE

The board also voted 5-0 to spend $2,500 on the land for the pump station, which will not require county commission approval. Eventually, BOE Chairman Michael Hughes said, East High will hook on to the sewer line, although additional lines will be needed. Because the sewer pump station bid came in at $1,025,000 and $1.25 million was set aside for sewer contingency, Vice Chairman Randall Jones said the school system still has more than $200,000 on hand for middle school sewer expenses.

The high school is served by a package plant that Maintenance and Facilities Supervisor Charlie Hubbard said is working fine now, although he predicted that Tennessee environmental officials sooner or later will force the school to hook on to the sewer line. He said the plant was tuned up over the summer and is functioning well.

Other school facilities with treatment plants are the Sullivan K-8 campus, Central Heights Elementary and the former Akard Elementary, which is now used for school system offices and storage.

Hughes said that the East community supports the middle school sewer line and pump station and that the improvements will open up that area along Weaver Pike to more residential and possibly other development.

IN OTHER ACTION:

The BOE:

— Approved a Bristol Tennessee Essential Services contract for West Ridge that mirrors the one for East Middle.

— Approved an articulation agreement with East Tennessee State University that will allow county high school accounting students to take a test and get ETSU credit if they score highly enough.

— Approved acceptance of a $5,000 SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education) grant that requires no local match, although Jane Thomas abstained. The system also has some past SCORE grant money not yet spent. 

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