New Sullivan high school excavation bid comes in low

Rick Wagner • Feb 5, 2018 at 9:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A markedly lower bid on excavation work for Sullivan County’s new high school is not cause for alarm and contains no hidden pitfalls, an architect told one of the county school board members in a work session Monday.

She said it is good news.

The low bid, which does not require a school board vote to be adopted, is on the mass grading for the new school, which will be near Exit 63 of Interstate 81. The bid of $1,677,700 was from Morristown-based East Tennessee Turf & Landscaping. The next lowest of the seven bids was from Summers Taylor Inc. of Elizabethton at $2,782,100, and other bids ranged from almost $3 million to $5.75 million.

Dineen West, of Kingsport-based Cain Rash West Architects, told Board of Education member Mark Ireson the charges for unforeseen things such as rock excavation and unsuitable soil from the apparent winning bid were in line with those of other bidders. She said that after a Tennessee stormwater application is approved, work on the site off Lynn Road near the former Sam’s Wholesale Club building could begin as early as the week after approval. The winning bidder also had the shortest timeline for completion: 225 calendar days, compared to a high of 490 days.

Naming survey coming soon

The new $60 million school has not yet been named, nor have its colors and mascot been chosen. The facility will be a combination of attendance zones of Sullivan South and North and most or all of Central. The rest of the county’s high schoolers will attend East.

Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said the formal groundbreaking will be after the board approves a name, mascot and colors for the new school. She said three choices in each category, coming from a committee including students, will be presented in an online public survey, probably later this month, and the results will be available before the BOE votes.

Middle school update

West said excavation work continues for Sullivan East Middle School. Last week, she was on site with would-be contractors who are interested in bidding on the construction phase of the project, for which groundbreaking was held in the fall.

Construction bids are due and to be opened Feb. 14, and the BOE is to have a called meeting to consider those documents and any needed high school school matters at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 22.

The $20 million middle school is to open in the fall of 2019, while the new high school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020. They are among school projects being funded by a countywide bond issue also paying for projects in Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn.

Weaver Elementary disposition update

At the 6:30 p.m. meeting Monday in health and education building on Blountville Boulevard, the BOE is to discuss how to go about disposing of the former Weaver Elementary School property, a matter also on the agenda of a called 4:30 p.m. meeting Thursday, Feb. 8.

The board closed that school at the end of the last academic year after an engineer warned of structural problems. Adjoining property owners and others have expressed interest in acquiring part of the land or the building. 

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