Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 22, 2012

Oakvale School set to open on schedule as construction continues

OAKVALE — Within a few days, Oakvale children will see the classrooms they will use while their entire school undergoes a transformation.

Last June the old section of Oakvale School — the kitchen, heating plant, water main and electrical panel — was demolished to make way for new construction, said Kellan Sarles, public information specialist for Mercer County Schools.

Construction has continued throughout the summer to turn what remains of the building into a functioning school that will serve students until the ultimate goal, the new Oakvale Elementary School, is completed.

“We’re good to go,” Principal Ernie Adkins said Tuesday. “We’re in good shape to be open on the first day. We’re doing some final cleaning and getting ready.”

Every grade level at the pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade school will have its own classroom, Adkins said. There are seven classrooms, and each one will have from 15 to 20 students.

A portable kitchen has been installed to serve the school’s students while construction is underway. The kitchen’s staff is scheduled to undergo training in it today.

“We have been on schedule and on target from the beginning,” Adkins said.

Three changes have been made to construction plans while the work was underway, according to Superintendent Dr. Deborah Akers.

One change required by the West Virginia Fire Marshal added an access road to the left of the school, Akers said. This adds another way to reach the building if the other side is blocked.

Another change would have taken place during phase two of construction, Akers said. A conduct that will hold telephone and computer services will be installed now while a ditch that was dug for a power conduct is open.

A third change that was first scheduled during phase two of construction will allow the school to use well water for two more months, Akers said.

The changes will have little influence on the project’s overall cost, she said.

“Overall, in the whole scheme of the project, there’s been very little impact at this point,” Akers stated.

Adkins credited Clerk of the Works Tom Broyles for making the work proceed so well.

“Tom’s expertise in commercial construction has been evident in the smooth coordination of a pretty massive effort,” Adkins stated. “Thanks to his leadership and everyone working together, we are right on target to open the school.”

In 2011, the West Virginia School Building Authority (SBA) awarded the school district approximately $5 million to construct a new 23,000 square foot building on the Oakvale School site to house new classrooms, a media center, cafeteria and offices. The new section will be linked to the gymnasium and classroom wing and occupy much of the same space as the old building, Sarles said. The new school will be set back about 60 feet from Goodwin’s Chapel Road to allow for a parent drop-off loop and a new bus drive.

Unlike the old school, the new facility will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, Sarles said. The new school will also have a fire suppression system.

Adkins emphasized that the children’s safety is important while construction is underway.

“I will have procedures in place to guarantee that children are supervised at all times,” Adkins said. “Every teacher will do bus duty — not just one. Whenever children are outside, things will be very controlled and very organized.”�

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