By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

mwaters@heraldandtribune.com

School board members and the Director of Schools can break out those shovels now that the Washington County Board of Commissioners officially approved the next step for the Boones Creek K-8 school capital project.

After implementing a two-percent raise for all county employees and using the general fund balance to pay excess health care expenses, the commission finalized a balanced budget while tabling some public safety requests.

However, the new Boones Creek K-8 school capital project got an approval to physically start the project in a 21-2 vote.The resolution authorizing expenditure for the construction of the new school caps the project at $25,300,000 and ensures the groundbreaking that is to start next month.

Though the Boones Creek School capital project got the commission’s approval, the athletic complex raised as many, if not more, questions than it did answers.

The resolution to authorize expenditures for grading and other site-development work passed with votes from every commissioner except for Commissioners Robbie McGuire, Lee Chase and Steve Light—but not without a request for more concrete details on the project.

The maximum price of the grading is set at $3,420,000. Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge said the project, in addition to the grading, will cost around $2 million dollars. Meanwhile, Commissioner Todd Hensley said there was a reason the plan to approve the grading for the school and the athletic complex were to be implemented simultaneously.

“It’s worthy to note that the reason this is coming at the same time as the other two resolutions is that we’ve got to move the dirt all at the same time,” Hensley explained. “So a lot of the dirt where the athletic facilities go in are going to go in the field where the school will be. So it’s two different projects but it really will happen together as one.”

The new Boones Creek School project manager Tommy Burleson said the site contains 440,000 yards of dirt and in order to balance the site, dirt from the athletic complex site will be taken to the school site. He also said design work had not been completed for the athletic complex project.

But the grading of the 37-acre athletic facility wasn’t the only portion of the plan that was discussed; Commissioner Danny Edens asked who would maintain the site once it was completed.

Though talk of entities such as the school system or parks and recreation managing the complex date back to the commission’s January meeting, Chairman Greg Matherly said a joint committee will work on the logistics of the athletic facility.