Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 2, 2012

Work continues on Oakvale Elementary School additions

OAKVALE — Even the principal is pitching in as work continues to get Oakvale Elementary School — now being prepared for new construction — ready when its students return this August.

Principal Ernie Adkins and other workers are now preparing the building’s newer sections for the students. Installing a portable kitchen that will serve the school’s needs while the new section is under construction is one task on this week’s schedule. Upgrades to the electrical system and heating system are also being addressed.

“We had to put in a new stairwell for an additional exit and other things like that,” Adkins said Wednesday. “We’re making good progress.”

Oakvale’s facility started out as a high school, but it is now serves students in pre-Kindergarten to fifth grade. Much of the old structure was extra space that was not being used, Adkins said. Many of the rooms were vacant.

While the school’s new sections are being constructed, each class will have its own classroom, Adkins said. Students will not have to use portable classrooms, nor will any classes be taught in the cafeteria or on the school’s stage.

“We will have enough space to have school for our 125 students,” he said.

Last fall, the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) awarded the Mercer County school district more than $5 million to construct a new 23,000 square foot building on the Oakvale school site to house classrooms, media center, cafeteria and offices, said Kellan Sarles, public information specialist for Mercer County Schools. The new portion will adjoin the gymnasium/ classroom wing and occupy approximately the same footprint as the old building, but it will be set back 60 feet from Goodwin’s Chapel Road to create space for a parent drop-off loop and a new bus drive.

Unlike the old school, the new building will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, Sarles said.

Crews have been at work closing up the gym’s windows where the new construction will connect the current structure, and installing heat and ventilation, she said. The section was warmed by the old building’s boilers.

“My head custodian, Phil Blevins, has gone above and beyond to help us work through the changes,” Adkins said.

Precautions will be in place to ensure the students’ safety while construction is underway, Adkins stated.

“I will have procedures in place to guarantee that children are supervised at all times,” he said.

“Every teacher will do bus duty - not just one. Whenever children are outside, things will be very controlled and very organized.”

The cordoned-off construction zone covers the entire area below the school, but an agreement with a nearby property owner will allow the students to reach the school’s playground and walking track.

“Mrs. Brenda Meadows has been phenomenal,” Adkins said. “She has done this basically out of the goodness of her heart.”

Renovations on the current structure are on schedule, and the school should be ready for students on Aug. 27 this year, Adkins said.

“It is really amazing how coordinated this effort has been and how much has been accomplished since June,” he said.

The new sections of Oakvale Elementary School are projected to open in August 2013, Sarles said.i

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