CMS project inches forward

Published 11:07 am Monday, July 24, 2017

GATESVILLE – While the wait continues for architectural drawings, early legwork for the Central Middle School construction/renovation project is underway.

At their most recent meeting, the Gates County Board of Commissioners received a project update from Ray Felton, chairman of the Gates County Board of Education, and Gates County Schools Superintendent Dr. Barry Williams.

As part of that meeting, upon a request made by Felton and Williams, the commissioners unanimously agreed to waive all local building permit and tap fees for the CMS construction/renovation project.

Felton gave an update to the commissioners regarding a June 20 meeting with AR Chesson, the project’s construction manager, and school officials along with the new Director of Maintenance for Gates County Schools.

Shown here is a rough drawing by Pinnacle Architecture of what the new wing will look like at Central Middle School.

“We wanted to use today’s meeting to keep you, our commissioners, informed and up to date on what’s going on with this project,” Felton said. “We’re trying to make the best decisions on how we spend the money approved for this project.”

Felton noted that one setback in the project was that the plans to get a head start on the demolition of the 8th grade wing at the school are now off the table.

“We’re unable to tear down the 8th grade wing at this time because state law requires us to first have the final architectural drawings and a construction bid approved before any demolition can begin,” he stated.

One bit of cost-saving news that Felton shared about the project is that the existing bathrooms that will remain in the 7th grade wing of the school will not have to be reconfigured. Felton said the project’s architect stated that those particular bathrooms are not ADA compliant, but they are close enough to the new bathrooms planned for the new 8th grade wing. The latter bathrooms will be constructed to ADA specifications.

That, along with another plan of action with the existing HVAC units in the 7th grade wing, will amount to $50,000 in savings off the cost of the entire project at this point.

Felton also talked about traffic flow at the new/renovated school.

“We’re looking to use the driveway off US 158 business for the traffic to enter; go towards rear of 7th grade building where there will be a circular drive, allowing for double-stack parking at which time students can disembark those vehicles,” Felton said. “For afternoon pick-up, vehicles will begin that process after 3:10 pm in front of the school. That timing will afford an opportunity for the buses to have been loaded and on their way.”

Felton added that the school’s principal, assistant principal and Resource Officer will be outside at those times helping to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

Earlier in the planning process, there was an idea of using the school’s cafeteria (at times when it is not serving meals) as classroom space during the construction process. Felton said that after more consideration, that plan has been scrapped in favor of using classroom trailers on campus.

“We plan to set up three trailers behind the sixth grade wing,” Felton remarked. “We will have them remodeled and ready for the students.”

Those mobile classrooms are already owned by the county’s school system and currently at another location.

Commissioner Henry Jordan asked of where the project’s bidding process stood at the current time and if any sort of preliminary work could be performed in advance.

“We can’t do anything in advance until we have the final architectural drawings and a construction bid in our hands,” Felton answered. “We are expecting those drawings to be in our hands by late August. We have to have those drawings before we start soliciting construction bids.”

Williams provided the commissioners and the public with a tentative schedule through December of this year in regards to the Central Middle School project:

Relocation of all school equipment and material from the administrative and 8th grade wing – current through Aug. 18;

Permanent relocation of utilities to facilitate new work (phone, fire alarm, intercom, data, power) – current through Aug. 18;

Prepare vacated building for demolition – Aug. 7 until mid-October;

Install construction safety fence for traffic flow and student safety during the 2017-2018 school year – July 31 until Aug. 4;

First day of school – Aug. 28;

Preparation of construction drawings – current through Aug. 31;

Receive and review construction bids – Aug. 31 through Sept. 30;

8th grade building demolition – mid-October through Nov. 30; and

New construction begins – Dec. 1.

“We were told to expect 12 months of construction time following the demolition,” noted Felton.

Felton also mentioned the possibility of “making some money” off this project. He said the idea has come up of offering pieces of the current gym floor for sale.

“How we take it up and in what size these pieces of floor will be is still being discussed,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of basketball games on that old floor; I might what to buy a piece or two of that floor myself,” remarked Commissioner Jordan.

Earlier this year, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved spending $8 million to construct/renovate Central Middle School. The new construction will consist of the 8th grade wing, which will include a new gym.

Central Middle School (previously Central High School) was constructed in three major phases:

1957 – the 8th grade wing;

1965 – the 7th grade wing; and

1997 – the 6th grade wing.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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