Ground broken for Central Elementary Project

School Superintendent Jamie Weddington speaks at a ceremonial ground breaking for the Central Elementary Project. Also pictured are State Representative Rocky Adkins and LCCE Principal Stacy Kidwell. - Dennis Brown Photo

School Superintendent Jamie Weddington speaks at a ceremonial ground breaking for the Central Elementary Project. Also pictured are State Representative Rocky Adkins and LCCE Principal Stacy Kidwell. – Dennis Brown Photo

A ceremonial ground breaking for the Central Elementary Project was held Friday at the location where the new multi-million dollar facility will be located.

Superintendent Jamie Weddington was joined by members of the board of education, LCCE Principal Stacy Kidwell, Representative Rocky Adkins, architects, construction officials, former superintendent Belinda Forman, and all the LCCE students and teachers.

“Today is a very exciting day for Central,” said Kidwell as she welcomed everyone to the event and thanked the community for voting to fund the project through additional property taxes.

The students and many others in attendance donned plastic construction “hard hats” to mark the occasion.

“What a special day this is,” said Adkins. “To be here today to have the opportunity to break ground on what will be something that will be very, very special for the future.”

“I know how long you’ve waited to be here today for the chance to break ground on this beautiful, beautiful facility that will be built by Trace Creek Construction, a local construction company here in your community that will be employing local people as they build this facility which will be really, really special,” he said.

Trace Creek Construction is serving as construction manager for the project.

“I don’t know what the final price tag is on this facility but I really do know what the input of those tax dollars are going to,” he said. “They’re going to these beautiful students that stand here today and those that come in the future.”

“This is, I think, a perfect example of when people in the local community make a decision that they want to see something really, really good happen,” Adkins said. “The people of Lewis County have made a commitment for part of their tax money to be spent here locally and then it was up to us . . . at the state level to do our part as well.”

“We equalize the amount of money that was coming in locally from your tax dollars, at the state level we put that in the budget plus about $3.5 million more to make sure that we did this project exactly the way it needed to be done,” he said.

“The way it needs to be done is first-class, state-of-the-art for you teachers and you students that are going to be attending here,” Adkins said.

“I’m so honored to have the opportunity to work with the people of Lewis County, and the people of our region, and the people of this Commonwealth,” he said. “I know of no better place to put our tax dollars than to put it back into our children, our most precious resource.”

“Of all the days we work to try to make Kentucky a better place, what better picture could you have than the picture that you see here today,” Adkins said. “Look at these kids, look at these students, look at the future of this community and the investment that’s being made here today to make this entire community a better place for all.”

“A big, big congratulation to all of you and the people of Lewis County,” Adkins said in closing.

Weddington thanked members of the board of education as well as Belinda Forman for getting the project started two years ago.

“They showed the desire and the dedication to get this project started,” Weddington said.

“I would also like to thank members of our Central Office staff who diligently work behind the scenes to keep this project going, to get it going along the way,” he said. “Those people are Nick Adams, Kevin Duff, Jennie Enix, Tiffany Felty, Joe Kennedy, Paula Lewis and Greg McCane.”

Weddington also recognized Trace Creek Construction as well as alt32, the project architectural firm.

Weddington also expressed gratitude to the citizens of Lewis County.

“Our community always supports our kids,” he said. “Many school districts across our state have tried to increase their funding to provide more facility money for kids and they have failed. Our community, by the widest percentage margin that I know of, voted for our kids.”

Of those voting in the December 2015 special election to enact the nickel tax, 61.6 percent voted to approve the additional property tax.

“The students who stand before me today will soon see the benefits that our community is willing to provide them. A brand new school,” Weddington said as those attending applauded.

Board members voted to impose a nickel tax levy during a special meeting in August 2015. The matter was put before voters after a petition garnered enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

The property tax, amounting to about 7.0 cents per $100 of valuation, was implemented on Lewis County property owners in 2016.

The move increased the bonding potential for the school district and allowed for bonds to be sold to finance the project. The bonds will be paid back over several years from the tax proceeds.

Central Elementary has been deemed as the facility most in need of major renovation or replacement the district’s plan for many years. Proceeds from the tax may only be used for new construction or renovation.

The house that had been utilized as the superintendent’s office has been razed and preparation work is nearly complete on the area where the new facility will be built.

The present school building will be utilized until the new facility is built and then the present facility will be torn down, according to Weddington. The area now occupied by the school building will become parking and bus lanes.

The project has been estimated to cost between $13 million and $16 million. Early bids on the project have come in lower than anticipated which indicates the cost of the new facility will likely be on the lower end of that scale.

The project is expected to be complete by the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

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