Rain delays Fort Payne school construction progress

Rainy weather has delayed progress on construction of Fort Payne’s new school and new tennis courts, according to Superintendent Jim Cunningham.

“Rain is slowing down the process somewhat,” Cunningham told school board members at the Jan. 23 meeting.

“We’re moving, but [construction crews] wanted to remind me that we’ve had enough weather, whether it be cold or rainy weather, that we are behind. That happens, and thank goodness we recognized that early. If we were looking at the perfect day – if everything goes perfectly from here on – we are probably still looking at probably a Christmas finish next year. But the main thing we want is a building that’s built correctly. Once you get past that point of considering anything before Christmas, that somewhat takes the pressure off of you.”

He gave the board an update on the school construction work that’s been completed.

“I was at the school all afternoon [on Jan. 22] and the brick work is going well around the whole building. They have got a lot of the rock work done. Interior, they are working on the electrical. They are starting to move the cables. Plumbing is coming along nicely. If you walk in, though, all you are going to see are cement floors, block walls and things stubbed out from these. We aren’t to the point where you say, ‘Wow, this is pretty’ inside. But you do get the feeling of ‘This is a massive building.’ It’s a big building.”

Cunningham said site work changes may accommodate additional physical education and walking opportunities around the back of the school building.

Northeast Alabama averages five inches of precipitation in January, according to the National Weather Service. Rain and cold have also affected construction on a joint project with the city to create new tennis courts.

“The weather could not be harder on us than it has been,” Cunningham said. “Every time that the sub-surfaces have been taken out and put down, we get a rain, and it will not proof-pack to the standards that a court needs. So it is taken back up and redone… then it rains again. Now they’ve got to go back and re-roll – proof-roll is what they call it – again to make sure it is where it should be.

“The next step will be that [Fort Payne] Street Department will put down a two-inch binder to seal it. Then the tennis court company will come in and put down two inches of asphalt to create the base. Then there are fences and walkways to install and completion of the lights. We didn’t have to buy any additional light poles; we were able to just move them to different areas. All I can do is say I wish we had [the new tennis courts]. Right now, [Fort Payne High School Principal Brian Jett] has made practice space for students available at Terrapin Hills for our tennis team, which is not what we want, but there’s nothing we can do. When it comes to asphalt and concrete, cold weather can stop that. We are moving as fast as the weather will allow it to happen. But we do look forward to soon having the new courts added to the older courts we already have.”

“We want it done right,” Board President Jimmy Durham said. “It’s worth waiting for.”

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