The long-awaited advertisement of bids on the new Big Creek/Iaeger High School and the new Bradshaw Elementary School project is a giant step toward new school construction in McDowell County.

When combined with the planned January opening of the new Southside K-8 facility in War, it also marks a significant milestone in a journey for McDowell County that actually dates back to 1999. That was the year when school officials first initiated dialogue with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about possible participation in a federal flood-proofing project.

Bids will be opened Dec. 13 at the state School Building Authority office in Charleston with construction on both schools beginning simultaneously early next year, according to McDowell County School Superintendent Suzette Cook.

Cook said the new Bradshaw Elementary will be completed first. It should take about 18 months for construction crews to complete the new high school that will consolidate the existing Big Creek and Iaeger high schools.

While contractors have been moving dirt in Bradshaw for months, all of the construction to date has simply involved site preparation work for the massive educational campus.

Cook said contractors had to move about a million cubic yards of dirt in order to create 17 acres of flat land for the school campus that will house the elementary school and middle school projects.

Cook said construction on a fourth new school — a new Iaeger Elementary — also will begin at some point in the near future.

The fight to build new state-of-the-art schools for the youngsters of McDowell County has been a long journey. However, the mandate of the state Board of Education — which retains control of the local school system to this very date — is now another step closer to becoming a reality.

We welcome the progress, and we look forward to the upcoming relocation of students in War to the new K-8 facility located adjacent to the existing Big Creek High School.

The construction is all but finished, and school officials are now getting ready to pack boxes and move school supplies in anticipation of the long-awaited moving day.

Good things do come to those who wait. We are glad to see and report that new state-of-the-art schools are one step closer to becoming a reality for the school children of McDowell County.