WES remodeling to begin this year
By Carol McLeod
The Jefferson County Board of Education plans to make changes this school year to Wrens Elementary School. The main changes will create more space between the roadway and the school and enclose all areas but the gymnasium so that students will be able to move from area to area inside the building. Currently, even walking to the lunchroom takes students outside.
Craig Buckley of Buckley and Associates of Swainsboro is the architect for the project.
The contractors have the drawings already and are pricing the project right now in order to determine their price,” he said. The project will be bid Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. at the BOE office in Louisville.
“The project will be broken into two basic phases,” Buckley said. “The first one is a new classroom wing, removal of the right wing.”
There will be a partial demolition of an already vacated classroom area plus construction of about 16 new classrooms, a new cafeteria and new kitchen. The second phase will be the demolition of the existing administration area, existing cafeteria and kitchen, and media center. During this phase, students will be in the new classroom area, new cafeteria and kitchen, in the wing that was built last year.
Phase two includes the demolition of the media center, the cafeteria and the administration and the construction of the new administration and main entry, new media center, the new main circulation spine, and a new bus entry.
“After the construction is complete, it would entail all new paving, parking, sidewalks and landscaping,” Buckley said. “Therefore upon completion of the project, students and faculty will access all facilities without having to go outside, except to the gym or outside to play.
“And that’s a big deal because right now, everybody has to go outside via covered canopies. They have to put on coats to go to the cafeteria. That kind of thing and that goes away.”
Right now parts of the building are right up against the highway. “We are pushing the front door back from the highway so you can clearly see the entrance,” Buckley said.
This will improve the overall aesthetics and the general safety of the students by moving them farther from the highway, he said, adding this will provide significant vehicular traffic backup.
“Right now there’s limited space for cars to line up waiting to pick up and drop off students,” he said. “Originally the school was just going to have an addition done to the building. With a bit of innovative planning and state funding we’re able to, in essence, create a brand new school. It was a great effort on the funding side of the state to accomplish.”
According to Jefferson County School Superintendent Carl Bethune, the changes to the Wrens Elementary School will also mark a change in how the county’s school system will work with contractors.
Bethune said a prequalification process will ensure all bidding contractors have a good reputation, good references and experience building schools.
“Prequalifying is to assure the school board and the community that we have the best contractor we can have building our school,” he said. “We’re trying to be certain that we have a quality builder doing construction at all of our schools. The last project we bid was the high school PE facility and professional cooking lab. We, at that time, had a mandatory prebid meeting. The architect suggested that we may want to take it a step further and asked that we do a prequalification on the Wrens project. He asked that we consider doing the prequalification so that we would know for a certainty that we would have a quality builder.
“The staging of the project at Wrens is going to be very important for us to be able to continue to have school there and the fact that we can tear down one part of the building, construct the cafeteria and additional classrooms and then move into the second stage allows us to continue to have school with minimum interruptions,” Bethune said. “The addition is extremely important. We are in an old building and instructionally, the new building will allow us to meet the educational needs of our students, move the school away from the highway and help us meet our educational needs for our students for the next 50 years.”
The old area will be demolished, he said. “The transformation is going to be as great as that of what Carver (Elementary School) was. It’s almost a mirror image of Carver.”
Everything that can be salvaged, such as the air conditioning units and fire alarms, will be, he said. “We will try to salvage as much as possible for future maintenance needs. But everything in the new building will be new.”
The school’s principal, Sharon Dye, said she is very excited about the changes.
“They’re going to route the construction through Creek Street, which is right up the road from us,” she said. “They’ll route the trucks in that way, the construction vehicles and all that. They’ll route them in on the back of our property. They’re going to fence in both sides of that so nothing will be exposed to our students. None of the construction vehicles will be entering from the front.”
Dye agreed with the architect that the new façade of the building, having it face the highway, will improve the appearance. “It’s also a safety feature,” she said. “This way, when the new building is complete, the only way parents and visitors can enter is through the office. Currently, there is a lot of going outside to get to other parts of the building. The new school will be arranged so that students, personnel and visitors will be able to access all parts of the building without going outside.”
Dye said the new media center will have a tech lab and story area and the new cafeteria will have a stage.
“And we need that so bad,” she said. The new administrative area will include offices for the counselor, lead teachers and administration.
“Currently we have vacated the front main hall on the right,” she said. “Those classes have been placed throughout the campus in other rooms. By doing this we have managed to fill up the rest of the school with the classes, but we’re not having to double up any of the classrooms. The class sizes remain the same.”
Dye said there will be a smoother flow of traffic and plenty of parking.
“The main thing that stands out with me is that the new building will be farther from the roadway and students will not have to go outside to go to another part of the building,” she said. “They will still have to go outside to access the gym. That will be the only part that will be detached.”
No drugs found
By Carol McLeod
In a move to make Glascock County’s school safer and drug free, Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch, along with several other law enforcement officers conducted a search for drugs at the school.
Sheriff Couch brought three drug dogs to Glascock County Consolidated School on Wednesday, Oct. 17, around 8:30 a.m. to search students and all vehicles in the parking lot.
“When we set up our searches for the school, we don’t let anybody know we’re coming,” Sheriff Couch said. “If someone knew and they had something, then they can do away with it. If they don’t know, then they don’t have that chance.”
Assisting Sheriff Couch in the search were Wrens Police Officer Robert Cowart and his drug dog Bud, Wrens Police Officer Mike Shores, Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Robbie Harrison and his drug dog Sally, Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy Donald McVean and his drug dog Blask, Glascock Deputy Jeremy Kelley and Glascock Chief Deputy Lamar Baxley.
“I went in the school and had the dogs and officers outside,” Sheriff Couch explained of the search procedure. “I told Ms. Dot Raley, the receptionist, to lock the school down; we were going to search it and to notify Ms. (Sally) Garrett.”
Sheriff Couch said representatives from the state of Georgia’s RESA program were there at the time of the search that morning.
“We searched all the lockers and the majority of the rooms in the high school and middle school and then proceeded to walk dogs around all the cars including the staff’s and teacher’s vehicles,” he said.
Though one of the dogs did alert on one vehicle one time, no drugs were found inside that vehicle or in any other area of the school.
“I am very proud to say that Glascock County Consolidated School has no drugs,” Sheriff Couch said.
The Glascock County Sheriff’s Office searches the school two to three times a year. The first time the school was searched by Sheriff Couch in 2005, they found cocaine, but since then the school has remained clean.
Sheriff Couch said he tries to help lead the students to a drug free life by talking to students on several occasions throughout the year including before prom and graduation about the dangers of drugs and also drinking and driving.
“I am real proud of our school, including the staff and students for being drug free,” he said. “It makes me feel good to have such a big group of young people who don’t deal with drugs.”
Polls open Tuesday in three city elections
Next week, candidates in Jefferson and Glascock counties will face off for coveted seats of city council members and mayor.
The cities of Gibson, Louisville and Wrens will hold elections Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. In August and September, eight cities held qualifying periods for several seats, but only the three cities needed an actual election.
In the city of Gibson, three men are contesting a spot on the Gibson City Council. The candidates are incumbents Paul Hinton, Warren Pittman, and Dean Reese. The Gibson City Hall will be open on Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for voters. They also will have advance voting. Citizens can vote by stopping by this week with the chance for advance voting until Friday.
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The city of Louisville will only have two candidates vying for one city council seat left vacant by Tom Watson. The candidates are Larry Atkins and Elmo Hutchinson. Voters can go to City Hall on Nov. 6 to cast their ballot or can participate in the advance voting by stopping by Louisville City Hall this week. City Hall will open each day this week at 8:30 a.m., with the advance voting closing at 4 p.m. on Friday.
The city of Wrens will have four spots to fill on their ballot. The mayor position and three city council positions need to be filled. In the mayoral race, incumbent Dollye Ward and former council member Lester Hadden will face off.
In the council race, the seats of incumbents Ceola Hannah and Sydney McGahee are contested. Voters will need to select two candidates in this race. Candidates are incumbents Hannah and McGahee, Earnest Rozier, Wylie Prescott and Wayne Favors.
There are three candidates looking to fill the council seat left vacant by Hadden after he qualified to run for mayor. In this race are Tomasenia Jackson, Spence Norton and Jack Templeton.
Voters need to vote at Wrens City Hall on Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Those needing to vote in advance may stop by City Hall to this week up until Friday.