2012 Top Stories: #1: New Bertie H.S. becomes reality

Published 9:54 am Friday, January 4, 2013

WINDSOR – A new Bertie High School went from the discussion phase to the construction phase in 2012.

The Bertie County Commissioners and Bertie County Board of Education worked together and moved forward with the new facility, which is currently being constructed across U.S. 13 from the current school building.

In March of last year, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald reported that the building process was moving forward.

On March 13 it was reported that Jimmy Hite, the architect for the project, informed the school board that 11 bidders had qualified to construct the project. Hite gave that information as part of a report on the progress of building the school.

He gave a list of projects that were complete, including the program design, staff input phase, site survey, floor plan details, geotechnical survey, traffic impact study and wetland delineation.

Hite said the next step would be to submit plans for agency review which will begin later this week and will continue through April. He said plans are currently to submit the site approval to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources by April 6.

Two days later came a report that the town of Windsor had agreed to accept the sewage from the new facility.

Hite, who appeared before the Windsor Commissioners, said the request was 15 gallons of sewer per day per student for the entire 900 student population or 13,500 gallons per day. It was unanimously approved.

On April 7, the News-Herald reported that Hite appeared before the Bertie Commissioners to assure them the site on U.S. 13 would be suitable for building a new high school.

Hite and Carl Bonner of Terracon Consulting appeared before the board and said that, despite the work that would need to be done to the soil at the site, it would work for the construction of the project.

Bonner said he found the site to be constructable and added there was a high water table, but that was normal for rural areas. He further stated the site will be raised four or five feet before construction begins.

He said elevating the site would help in two ways. First it would make it easier to build on and remove the water as an issue. Secondly it creates a layer of good soil which will support the building.

The only locations where additional support will be required are in columns in the gym and the auditorium. Those places will see the supports drilled into the lower soil level.

On May 19, it was reported the Bertie County Commissioners received information about the financing of the project.

Davenport and Company gave the board several scenarios for borrowing money to build a new high school last week.

The scenarios spelled out the effect of borrowing money to construct a high school for the original $18,030,000 the board has said they will approve as well as the possible $20.1 million that the school would cost as currently designed.

Citizens were offered the opportunity to speak about the new high school project in June. In the June 28 edition of the News-Herald, it was reported that many questions were asked during the public input session.

Few people spoke against building a new Bertie High School. However, in a public hearing regarding the financing of the facility, citizens asked commissioners to look at alternate sites, consider adding a citizen’s advisory committee and to wisely spend tax-payer money on the facility.

On August 2, it was reported the Bertie County Board of Education voted unanimously in the absence of then Vice Chair Emma Johnson to remove the auditorium from the high school project and replace it with a 12-classroom addition.

In the Aug. 4 edition, it was reported that citizens received answers to the questions asked at the earlier public hearing. The answers were provided by the Bertie County Commissioners.

Discussion as to the future of the auditorium and the classroom project continued in the new meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners, according to the Aug. 9 edition.

The issue came up when the board was asked to approve invoices spent for the building of the school. Commissioner Rick Harrell objected to the process, saying the county was spending more than $1 million without committing to borrow the money for the school. The group agreed to make a decision in coming days.

The next step of building a new high school was approved by the Local Government Commission, according to the Oct. 4 edition. Bertie County Board of Education members Alton Parker and Emma Johnson made the announcement after returning from the meeting with the LGC.

In the next edition, it was reported that the Bertie County Commissioners and school board had reached an agreement on a lease of the new high school. The facility is to be owned by the county and leased for education purposes by the school district. Attorneys from both boards said the lease was required to move forward.

In the Nov. 6 edition, Architect Jimmy Hite returned to the Bertie Commissioners to discuss changes to be made to the 12-classroom addition of the school. He said the alterations resulted in a net change of $136,000, but he was not ready for the board to approve them.

Hite said some of the figures were too high and that he wanted to negotiate with contractors before the board approved the figures.

On Nov. 17, the major work of the high school moved near completion. Then Bertie County Commission Chairman L.C. Hoggard joined County Manager Morris Rascoe, Assistant County Manager Misty Deanes and Finance Officer William Roberson to sign paperwork completing the sale of bonds for the new high school.

One week later, officials from throughout Bertie County joined together to officially break ground for the new high school. With construction equipment and personnel already working in the background, members of the county commission and school board broke ground on the new high school. A crowd of more than 100 gathered for the event.