Three Sampson County Schools will see much-needed upgrades before the end of 2012, thanks to a special vote by the Board of Education Monday night.
Because the projects were deemed immediate in nature, Anthony Vann, executive director of auxiliary services for Sampson County Schools, said the $135,000 cost of the three projects were out of the scope of his already tight plant operations and maintenance budget. The board will, instead, pull the money out of the system’s fund balance.
The three projects were a queuing lane at Hobbton Elementary School; electrical upgrades to Hargrove Elementary; and a sewer tank replacement at Lakewood High School.
“These are projects we would typically put on a Capital Outlay request, but if we did that, they would all have to wait another year from now,” Vann explained. “Everyone agreed that these projects needed immediate attention and that is why they were given the go-ahead.”
The board, without G.H. Wilson, who was absent due to a family emergency, approved the budget amendment unanimously in front of a very light audience at Plain View Elementary School.
If you are a parent picking up your child at Hobbton Elementary, you may have noticed that in the afternoons, you could be waiting behind cars backed up on U.S. 701. The snarl in traffic had nabbed the attention of concerned school officials and something needed to be done, Vann said.
“The mornings aren’t that bad, it is the afternoons that are the problem,” he explained. “The staff at the school does an excellent job for the amount of space they have there. But in the afternoons there are as many as 15 cars that are stacked up out of 701. This is stacked up from the school’s driveway towards Newton Grove. There is a hill there and it can be dangerous to oncoming drivers.”
Once it was brought to the attention of Vann, and subsequently, the board, the issue had to be addressed.
“There is a safety factor there from them blocking traffic,” he said. “For the safety of the parents, students and our staff, as well, so we came up with this plan and met with the board, the school and Department of Transportation folks to address this issue.”
That plan was to add a queuing lane that will pull traffic back some 180 feet into a grassy area on school property and then have vehicles make a turn back towards the school.
“What the parents will do is sort of make a big loop,” Vann explained. “In all, we will have close to 500 feet of queuing lane that will get them in line to pick up their children without having to be in the road. That will get all that traffic off 701 and get them on to our property and keep them safe.”
In all, the project is expected to cost the system $40,000 and will begin within the next two and a half weeks.
Approximately $60,000 of electrical upgrades will be headed to the over 60-year-old Hargrove Elementary in the coming month.
“It is an old school and what we were beginning to discover was that the power coming into the building is so close to what we are using, the custodial staff would plug in a buffer to buff the floors and if they weren’t careful, it would trip a breaker,” Vann explained.
Because of the updated technology and wall air conditioning units (with heat and air) that were installed in an effort to eliminate using an outdated boiler at the school, the power, or lack thereof, has been an issue at the school.
“When they were building the school and planned for the power back in the 1950s, I guess they were not really thinking about the future and using wall hung units or the technology we use,” Vann acknowledged. “It takes a lot of power and to be honest, we were just maxed out there. We needed it for the heat strips and the additional power. The weather is going to start being cooler here and the board felt like we needed to get those changes in there before that happened.”
The project will begin in the next few days.
A new sewage system will be installed at Lakewood High School over the winter break thanks to the board approving the $35,000 project Monday night.
“When that school was built (back in the 1970s) they put in what I call, a homemade septic system,” Vann noted about the issue at Lakewood. “That system has deteriorated over the years to the point where it is on the verge of leaking, and we certainly do not want that.”
While the system is on the ‘verge’ of a leak, Vann is quick to point out that a leak has not happened yet.
“We have looked at it and we have had a consultant from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) come out and look at it, and all of us can agree that it is on the verge of having a major issue,” he said. “To avert all of that, we are going to replace that entire system with a precast 15,000 gallon tank.”
With the tank, the pumps and piping, costs are expected to be $35,000, which is a good price , he said, considering clean-up fees and environmental fees could cost in the hundred thousand dollar range if it were to spring a major leak.
“From a safety standpoint, we don’t want any leaking around our students,” Vann said. “If it were to leak and get worse, it could become an environmental incident and clean-up could cost three times as much. That is why we are taking such a pro-active stand against it right now.”
Since the entire water system has to be shut down at the school in order to replace the sewer system, the project will begin over the holiday break. It is expected to take a week to complete.
Vann said he is relived that the board has given him the green light to take care of the three projects and not having to wait another year.
“These are projects that really needed attention, we just couldn’t wait another year,” he said. “So I am pleased the board was able to appropriate the money for these projects.”
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.