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New middle school inches forward

WINDSOR – Bertie County is inching closer to seeing a new middle school rise from the forest now lining US 13 north of Windsor.

During a recent meeting, the County Commissioners hosted a public hearing in regards to seeking an installment financing purchasing package for the middle school.

After no one spoke in favor or objected to the pending resolution, the Commissioners agreed to push forward with the project.

County officials will seek a lease-purchase package of up to $6 million. The entire project is estimated at between $16-17 million. The remaining funds will come from Bertie's share ($10 million) of the 1997 state school bond money and an estimated $1 million currently credited to the county by the State Department of Public Instruction in its ADM fund.

Construction bids went out last week. County officials have set a Sept. 1 bid opening date.

The 52-acre site for the new middle school is adjacent to an area purchased by the county several years ago where a plan was put together to construct a new high school.

However, that plan fell apart after the county learned the majority of the high school site was deemed as wetlands.

In a related matter in regards to that 47-acre parcel, the Commissioners learned on Monday there is hope to restore the wetlands to usable property.

Bertie County Forest Ranger Rudy Whitehurst informed the Commissioners he had gained approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a remediation plan on the property.

"I looked at the property and feel that with site preparation work and tree planting, we can get it back to useable property after a period of time," Whitehurst said.

He informed the Commissioners of a plan that included $150 per acre for site preparation work and an additional $70 per acre to plant loblolly pines. He said the costs were less than his original estimates.

Whitehurst said the entire project should come in at under $15,000.

The Commissioners approved a motion to hire Harold Mizelle as the contractor to perform the site preparation work. They also approved a separate motion to have 500-550 pines per acre planted on the site. That planting, as recommended by Whitehurst, is scheduled to take place sometimes in either September or October.