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Time frame for Tharptown cafeteria project pushed back

When the Franklin County Board of Education approved a cafeteria renovation project at Tharptown School earlier this year, superintendent Greg Hamilton never envisioned the series of problems and delays that would subsequently result.

The latest setback came when the contractor of the cafeteria project was held in default after repeated notices of cure, which are legal demands for the contractor to correct conditions causing it to be in default. Hamilton said the company was seriously behind on its time schedule to start the project, and, as a result, the system had to take legal action.

“The Franklin County Board of Education exercised its right under the contract to make demand on the bonding company to take over the job at Tharptown High School,” Hamilton said.

Earlier this year, the project appeared dead after the Alabama Building Commission stated that in order to renovate the school’s existing cafeteria into four new classrooms, the cafeteria would have to be converted into a safety shelter. The cost of that would have grounded the project.

That was resolved when, through a $1.4 million leverage bond, another six-classroom facility was to be constructed that will meet the parameters for a safety shelter, giving Tharptown 10 new classrooms and a new cafeteria, as well as a tornado room that will fit the entire elementary school enrollment.

The process now, Hamilton explained, is for the system, in conjunction with the bonding company, to contact the next-in-line bidder to get the cafeteria project started.

Hamilton said the time frame for completion of the project was April of 2018, but now that has been pushed back to the start of the 2018 fall school year.

As for the damaged band hall and science lab at Vina High School, Hamilton said he hopes to secure funding to have it demolished and rebuilt. For the moment, though, the building remains locked and unoccupied because school officials believe it to have suffered structural damage from a tornado and to be beyond repair.

Vina band students are using a makeshift band hall, and science classes have been moved into another classroom, but no lab is available.

“It’s a disservice to students,” Hamilton said. “We have a temporary band hall in a portable large building, but it’s frustrating. We just disagree with [State of Alabama] Risk Management officials about the integrity of the building.”

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