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Cedar Bluff Primary readies for students

From the first political shouts advising a new primary school be built in Cedar Bluff, dating back at least 17 years, comes the essentially finished project.

And with it, a new teaching career breaks ground.

The new Cedar Bluff Primary School phase one two-story building, a 75,000 square foot complex housing close to 600 students kindergarten through second-grade plus administrative offices and a library, was to open with the first day of Knox County schools Aug. 9.

Phase two, 50,000 square feet that will include a gymnasium, cafeteria and kindergarten classrooms, will allow the new school to add grades 3 through 5 beginning in the 2008-90 school year. It will house approximately 1,000 students when completed, said Russ Oaks, director of public affairs for Knox County Schools.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said District 5 county commissioner Frank Leuthold “started working on this, I know, when I was on County Commission with him in 1990. It’s actually heartwarming that’s he’s back to get to be a commissioner again.”

With phase two’s estimated completion in May 2008, total cost of both phases is approximately $17.7 million. With an estimated 1,200 students by 2008-09, “There will be some [students] that we will still have to use the [current] intermediate building for until we can finish some other projects …,” Oaks said.

Ragsdale and Leuthold joined other Knox County political leaders, school officials, construction and architectural personnel and media for an open house tour of the dual level building Thursday, Aug. 1.

Among a handful of the classrooms visited on a tour of the building was Megan Haney’s kindergarten room.

Haney, 23, a Lovell Road resident, took charge of her first-ever classroom today (Aug. 9). “I’m just excited to get in here, and get my kids in here, I’m ready to have my own classroom finally,” she said. “I was actually at the old school for two months last year. It was an interim position for a teacher on maturity leave. It was her room. … There’s a big difference between that and this.

“This is the first time that I get to bring in my stuff and have my kids, in a new school in my very own classroom,” added Haney, who earned her degree at King College in Bristol. “It’s great. I get to put my mark on it first.”

Megan’s husband, Taylor, is a 2003 graduate of Bearden High School and standout soccer player on BHS’s first state championship team in 2001.

Phase one, complete after roughly 18 months of construction, included dealing with a large amount of “rock and sink holes,” said Kelly Headden, senior vice president with Barber McMurry Architects. Demolition of the former Cedar Bluff Primary School building was to be complete no later than mid-August, Headden said.

Both classroom wings run east toward Cedar Bluff Road. Though partitioned, bathrooms do not have doors and feature sinks facing the hallway. “Safety, and managing the kids, where the bathrooms are open … you can hear what’s going on if there’s a disturbance, you can get there quickly,” Headden said. “All handwashing sinks are out in full view so things don’t get stuffed, towels don’t get stuffed.”

With large glass windows looking out from both levels at the east end, “It’s to bring natural light in, to make it a warm, friendly place,” Headden said.

The Barber McMurry official added the phase one building could be expanded in the future.

Phase two construction is well underway. “A lot of the ground work and infrastructure is already there, it’s just the physical bricks and mortar that’s starting to go up,” Headden said.

Ragsdale acknowledged the “support” of District 5 Commissioners Mike Hammond and Craig Leuthold, adding Barber McMurry “did a great job on the design … and Merit Construction, an outstanding job as well.”

Craig Leuthold said, “I’m just glad to see this happen, it’s been something this community’s been looking forward to for a long time, and we’re happy to see it come.”

Frank Leuthold added, “This project had been moved back as we’d gone to other projects, so it’s nice to finally say that we’re moving ahead on this one here for this community.”


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