In Sept. 27 IssueRussell County News
As the morning sun was warming the site Monday, Superintendent Scott Pierce and Assistant Superintendent Kenny Pickett walked from the job-trailer to the Auditorium-Natatorium for a look around.
Pierce praised the speed of the work and discussed some of the changes that have meant more usable space in that project and in the now-occupied band room and classrooms at the rear of the high school.
"For $13 million we've added new band rooms, nine classrooms, 6 resource rooms, several storage spaces as well as the auditorium, natatorium and wellness center," Pierce summed up.
He added that $6 million of that was money appropriated by the legislature for all of this construction, and that for a number of years after construction is finished the district will actually be able to use money from outside the general fund to operate the new building.
There is another source of income for the new building. Pierce said Somerset Community College will be renting classroom space in the new building. That will not only help offset any cost of the building, but will more importantly bring those classes, and the college credit they yield to the same campus as the high school and even middle school students.
He said that because of this it won't be necessary for students to make the trip to the old Russell Springs Elementary School to take those courses.
Most of the tour Pickett and Pierce spent their time looking over the construction and remarking on the quality of work.
Pickett remarked that the craftsmanship on the project has been exemplary.
"It may be the best of any of the projects we've done," Pierce agreed.
There have been challenges.
Pierce said they had lively discussions with the architects over how the new band rooms would join to the school. He said that the way the plans had it two storage space, two classrooms and and six resource rooms would not have all been possible.
Small changes, using an existing door instead of installing a new one, adding one wall and reusing another door made those spaces part of the school.
There were changes not just at the addition, but at the new building as well.
The two men stood beside the tens-of-thousands of pounds of climate control equipment that the engineers had wanted on the roof, but Pierce and the construction superintendent Larry McGowan balked at that idea.
They won in the end and saved the money that would have been needed to place such a heave piece of equipment on the roof and eliminated the holes, and therefore possible leaks that could have come from placing it up there.
Deep inside the new building "cavernous" is one of the few words that properly describes much of the space.
The massive regulation-sized pool is set in a room with much more space around the pool than at many scholastic natatoriums. Pierce said the space will better accommodate teams preparing, and something rare in such a venue, bleachers for the audience.
The expansive auditorium is in this region of the state second only to the Center for Rural Development's in Somerset in size.
Two sound systems, a broad lighting catwalk, wings and stage left and right as well as a preparation space behind the stage along with prop storage rooms at the stage are designed to accommodate even the most ambitious of productions.
Pierce said that stage as well as several presentation spaces and a reception area will all be available for community groups, local businesses and even individuals to rent when they are not in use by the schools.
The public will also have access to the pool and a wellness center in the new facility.
Pierce said they are assets for the entire community, but the building was built for the students.
"We have an obesity epidemic in this country and it can be hard for some students to get out there on the gym floor and do some things, but up here they will be able to walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike without worrying about anyone making fun of them," Pierce said.
Completion for the construction project is expected next spring and the building is expected to be in use during late April or Early May.
They said that time frame will allow them to work-out any problems that may come up before the next school year starts.