School expansion unanimously OK’d by City Commission

Gary B. Gray • Oct 4, 2012 at 10:30 PM

After years of discussion, planning and reviewing different options by the Johnson City Board of Education, Indian Trail Intermediate School will finally get its much-needed classroom expansion.

The City Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a $1.4 million contract with Kingsport’s Travis Chatman Construction to add two wings and a total of eight new classrooms to the school. It also appears the city also will have enough money to go forward with bids on new roofs for Woodland and South Side elementary schools.

“I understand there has been some concern over the contractor,” Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin said to City Manager Pete Peterson. “There also are concerns whether other needs (roofs) will be able to go forward.”

Peterson confirmed the city had never done business with Travis Chatman but said he felt comfortable bringing them onboard to do the project.

“I’ve talked with Mr. Street (architect Tony Street) and he’s talked with the contractor and subcontractors that have worked with the company, and he said he knew of no reason why they would not be capable,” Peterson said. “I have no reservations at this time.”

Peterson also explained the city had refinanced the PEP (Peoples Education Plan), which in the late 1990s generated money to build Woodland, South Side and Lake Ridge elementary schools through a quarter-cent sales tax hike.

The result of that action is $2 million.

“When we refinanced the PEP, it allowed us to lower our interest rates and lower our payments,” he said. “Within this year’s budget there is $700,000 to replace the roof at Woodland and about $750,000 to replace the roof at South Side. So the two roofs are funded. That’s a non-issue.”

He then told commissioners that with the remainder left over from the $2 million and money from the city’s fund balance, needed electrical work at Science Hill High School would be funded.

Commissioners also unanimously approved Burleson Construction Co. to oversee construction of the addition for a fee of 1 percent of the total cost.

Expansion at Indian Trail has been at or near the top of the Board of Education’s priority list for some time, but it has been an item that’s had to wait until construction and renovations at the Science Hill campus finished up so the remainder of Washington County school bond funds could be calculated.

Street introduced the first visual offerings of what would have been a roughly $2 million expansion and renovation at Indian Trail over one year ago that at that time included a cafeteria expansion, but it had no identifiable funding source. Plans, for now, include holding off on the cafeteria expansion and instead replacing round tables with larger rectangular tables to accommodate the 250 meals served to students each day during three separate lunch breaks.

Commissioners also approved a $45,000 grant through the state’s Office of Criminal Justice Programs to fund the planning phase of the Johnson City Police Department’s participation in the Tennessee Targeted Crime Reduction Project. The intervention program is designed to reduce drug-related and violent crime.

When the planning phase is successfully completed, Police Chief Mark Sirois will apply for the two-year $800,000 grant to implement the project.

“We believe this opportunity has come at the right time,” Sirois said.

The planning process will include Leslie McCallister, East Tennessee State University Department of Sociology chairman, who has worked with the police department on recent Weed and Seed strategies. LK Consulting will be used to collect initial data during the planning phase.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos