East Middle groundbreaking today at noon

Rick Wagner • Updated Nov 17, 2017 at 7:04 AM

BLUFF CITY — With no rain in the forecast for midday Friday, Sullivan County education officials are preparing to break ground for Sullivan East Middle School, the first new school to be built in the county system since the late 1970s.

The ceremony at 4500 Weaver Pike, about a mile southeast of Sullivan East High School, will begin at noon. The $20 million facility is soon to be followed by a $60 million high school off Exit 63 of Interstate 81. If construction starts as scheduled, the middle school, which will take the place of Bluff City Middle, Holston Valley Middle and the middle school portion of Mary Hughes School, will open in August 2019. The new high school, which has not yet been named, is to open in August of 2020. 

Groundbreaking for the 800-student middle school was reset from earlier this month because of rain. Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said today’s event will include the East marching band, cheerleaders, bluegrass band and choir.

Signs directing motorists will be on Silver Grove Road and on the site.

Aside from the name “East,” the two schools will share the Patriots mascot and the colors of red, white and blue, as chosen by an online survey following work by a naming committee and a vote by the Board of Education.

The new 1,700-student high school will combine North, South and much of Central and feature an emphasis on career technical education. 

Rafalowski said heavy equipment is slated to arrive at the middle school site soon, weather permitting. Bluff City-based Baker’s Construction & Excavation submitted the low bid for the site preparation or “mass grading” with a bid of $709,000. That work is to be completed in 120 days. Architectural renderings from LSP3/Cain Rash West Architects show a red brick, two-story building with a metal roof. A construction bid has not yet been let for the building.

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