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County school board gets good news on THS cafeteria project

After a series of problems and delays, the Franklin County Board of Education received some good news last week on the cafeteria and classroom project at Tharptown High School.

Work is expected to begin in mid-January on the long-awaited project that has seen a series of setbacks. A new contractor, First Team Construction, Inc. from Auburn is now the contractor for the project after the original contractor 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.

Franklin County superintendent of education Greg Hamilton said the original contractor was seriously behind on its time schedule to start the project, and as a result the system had to take legal action.

The system made demand on the bonding company to take over the job and move to the next highest bidder. Hamilton said he received notification that construction would start in the next two to three weeks.

The project, which calls for a new cafeteria and classroom building as well as a renovation of the existing cafeteria into four classrooms, also faced a setback last year when the Alabama Building Commission ordered that in order to renovate the existing cafeteria, the cafeteria would have to be converted into a safety shelter with a safe room. 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.

Total cost for both projects is expected to near $2.5 million.

Tharptown has seen meteoric growth in enrollment in recent years, particularly after Russellville City Schools imposed a $600 annual tuition on all non-city resident students beginning last year. The school has 828 students, with 546 of those in the elementary school.

The original time frame for completion of the project was April of 2018, but that has been moved back to the start of the 2018 fall school year.

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