Walker Valley going big
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Jan 20, 2014 | 1947 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Banner photo, HOWARD PIERCE
WORK CONTINUES on a new addition to Walker Valley High School. Senior project manager Cason Conn of Tri-Con, Inc., said he expected it to be done a month ahead of schedule.
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Additions to Walker Valley High School set to add space to the school’s cafeteria and eight new classrooms should be completed before the end of the current school semester.

In fact, both projects are set to be finished ahead of schedule, said senior project manager Cason Conn of Tri-Con, Inc.

In August, construction began on a two-story, 13,000-square-foot addition designed to help alleviate overcrowding at the school by adding new classroom space.

“We’re thankful that this is happening,” WVHS Principal Danny Coggin said.

Once completed, students will have a dedicated computer lab at their disposal again. Coggin said rooms originally designated as computer labs have been serving as regular classrooms because of the need for more space. One can be used as a computer lab, and seven more classrooms will also be available.

The addition, which sits to the right side of the existing building as it faces Lauderdale Memorial Highway, was designed to match the existing building design as closely as possible. The only notable difference is in the design of the windows.

New, storm-resistant windows were installed along with more highly reinforced walls to create a more “tornado proof” area of the school for people to take shelter in during strong storms, Coggin said. Those design details allowed the school to apply for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help offset the cost of the addition.

During a May 7, 2013, meeting of the Bradley County Board of Education, the board selected Tri-Con’s bid for the project, which was estimated to cost $1.7 million. However, $1.2 million of the total was to be covered by a FEMA hazard mitigation grant awarded through the state.

Construction on the new addition has been ongoing even as students have arrived for class each day. However, Coggin said the construction has “not at all” been an inconvenience and said the workers have been “wonderful” about keeping noise levels down during school hours.

“Everything’s going great,” Conn said. “We’ve had no issues.” 

Construction has, in fact, been so “great” he said the building addition is expected to be done by March — a full month ahead of the estimated completion time of April mentioned in the project’s contract. Everything has stayed within budget as well, Conn said.

While the end of the project is still months away, work on the addition’s exterior has already been completed.

“They’re inside on everything,” Coggin said, noting tiling, painting and other work is still in progress.

Meanwhile, a project to expand the school’s cafeteria has also remained on track, something the school principal said was started for the same reasons as the building addition.

There has not been enough room for students to eat there all at once. Coggin said the school had in the past tried giving students an hourlong lunch period and allowing them to eat anywhere in the school they saw fit. However, he said the school’s staff believed the setup to be a safety issue and went back to a more traditional schedule of lunch periods.

Adding onto the cafeteria will make room for about 160 new seats and allow the school to more efficiently handle lunch schedules, said Coggin.

Conn described the cafeteria project as being “95 percent complete” at this point in the game.

“We’re waiting on some lighting, other long-lead items,” he said. “Really, all we have left to do are some finishes.”

In a September 2013 interview, Coggin said the school had 1,550 students. In a recent interview he said he did not have updated figures available, but believed the number had continued to rise. He added he was “grateful for the opportunity to have extra space.”