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Unicoi County Schools request capital outlay for $7.5 million in facility needs

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Mar 25, 2019 at 10:23 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Board of Education on Monday officially requested the County Commission’s assistance with an estimated $7.5 million in needed renovations of school facilities.

With six of the county’s seven school board members in attendance at Monday’s commission meeting, Director of Schools John English made the request for the commission to issue a capital outlay note for the needed at repairs and facility updates.

English said the school system is paying approximately $330,000 annually on the county’s loan for construction of Unicoi County High School that will be paid off in June 2021 and is willing to commit the same amount for the debt service on a new capital outlay note for the needed renovations.

The schools’ needs list includes:

• $2.4 million for demolition and reconstruction of the bleachers and press box at Unicoi County High School’s Gentry Stadium.

• $1.2 million for an extension of the high school track and other updates that would allow the school to host track and field meets for the first time in 20 years.

• $750,000 for construction of tennis courts at the high school that would replace the school’s use of deteriorated public courts on the other side of town.

• $300,000 for electrical upgrades and new stage lighting for high school auditorium where the current system is creating safety concerns.

• $2.5 million for a new gymnasium at Unicoi Elementary School

• $980,000 for new electric, plumbing and heating and air systems at Rock Creek Elementary School.

English told the commission in the past three years the school system has committed $3.7 million to capital projects including new roofs, heating and air systems and other school facility needs and has “come to the point we have done about we can do without your assistance.”

English asked for a commitment from the commission that would allow the school system to begin securing designs for the needed updates.

Asked about the priority of the needs, English said he would hate to think about another year or even another winter without improvements to the cracked walls, crumbling concrete and eroding embankment at Gentry Stadium.

Commission Chairman Loren Thomas said the request will go first to the commission’s Finance and Building and Ground committees for a recommendation to full commission.

In other business on Monday, the commission approved interlocal agreements with the towns of Erwin and Unicoi that will allow the county to move forward with its pending ambulance service contract with MedicOne Medical Response.

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