Elementary committee sets sights on property

PARKERSBURG – Members of the committee to build a new school in Williamstown met with members of the Wood County Board of Education Tuesday to outline their purpose and objectives.

Members of the Williamstown Elementary New School Steering Committee outlined an aggressive schedule to identify and purchase property for the site of a new Williamstown Elementary School.

The committee is comprised of Board of Education President Tim Yeater, Sue Woodward, Chip Pickering, Traci Stotts, Dave Ferguson, Mayor Jean Ford, high school principal Pat Peters, Russ Flowers, Lynn Erb and principal Heather Bretthauer.

Yeater addressed the board on behalf of the committee and presented the proposed schedule. Yeater said finding property is its first priority. Officials want to have a site identified by May with a recommended selection by Aug. 31. The committee hopes to purchase property by the end of November.

Yeater said the community prefers the new school remain in Williamstown, but will settle for keeping it in the Williamstown district.

“The existing site is the benchmark,” he said.

The board and the city of Williamstown are looking for land on at least eight acres within the school district with access to public utilities. No acceptable sites have been identified.

Sue Woodward, assistant superintendent of Wood County Schools, is serving as point person on the property search efforts.

Yeater said county (taxpayer) costs for the school are looking at a $15 million-$20 million bond.

They are also looking at setting out a half-million dollars for a planning grant that will start financing for property, provide money for surveying, design and service studies.

Superintendent Pat Law said the school project is “a piece of a puzzle of a much larger picture.”

Officials said a total bond for county-wide school issues and needs (roofs, windows and doors, etc.) could be around $30 million. The high school bond approved in 2004 (for Parkersburg and Parkersburg South high schools) was for $35 million, plus $15 million from the state School Building Authority.

“That’s what they will have to decide as a board: To weigh the equation to best serve the county and be a manageable amount of money to finance and expect the taxpayers to pay and remedy our facility needs,” Woodward said.

Ryan Taylor with Pickering Associates presented the board with an updated timeline of PHS’ Stadium Field work.

Taylor said the project has attracted 17 contractors bidding on three packages of the project. He said five returned bids on the demolition project Tuesday.

Taylor said if work starts next week the total rehabilitation of the facility will be completed May 31.

“A skeleton will remain,” he said. “It is a complete structural repair on the facility.”

Taylor said one million pounds of concrete will be hauled out of the stadium as work continues. Board members raised concerns about protecting the track and the parking lot from overweight vehicles hauling the waste. Taylor said officials will take pictures to document the existing conditions.

Stadium Committee President Earl Johnson also updated the board on the fundraising efforts, noting the Stadium Committee is gearing up efforts. He presented officials with a $40,0000 check toward the $3 million project.

Earlier this year the board approved $700,000 for the project. The Stadium Committee has $100,000 on hand and plans to secure a $400,000 loan. The rest of the money will be generated through fundraising efforts. which are under way.