Breaking ground for a new school

Pictured at the groundbreaking ceremony are Robert Littleton, Katy Thomas Lucas, Jay Grubbs, Gary Owen, Randy McClung, Jimmy Durham, Kevin Sayre, Carolyn Martin, Kathy Prater, Neal Baine, Lynn Brewer, Jim Cunningham, Larry Chesser, Gerald “Red” Taylor, Brian Baine, Johnny Eberhart, Wade Hill, Brian Hargis and Andrew Dean. 

The groundbreaking for the new Fort Payne Elementary School took place Wednesday at 10 a.m.

In December 2018, The Fort Payne Board of Education approved two bids for the construction of the school building that would replace Williams Avenue Elementary, which has been in service since 1954.

Bids were opened in September 2018 and were voted on three months later. The BOE awarded the full contract for the structure to Baggett Construction, Inc., of Decatur, for $19.3 million.

The city of Fort Payne used $20 million of bond money to put towards the new school and the complete cost of the project, including the base bids and soft costs, totals $22.8 million.

Fort Payne City School Superintendent Jim Cunningham said the turning of the first sod Wednesday, by the Fort Payne city council and mayor, BOE members, and Baggett Construction, Inc. personnel, celebrated the first days of construction on the school that will service generations of students to come.

“Today, the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new 3rd through 4th grade elementary school is an exciting time for the students, parents, school staff, and community of Fort Payne,” Cunningham said Wednesday. “I was in a 2nd grade classroom yesterday and truly enjoyed hearing the enthusiastic anticipation of the first students that will be in school at the new site in the near future.”

Fort Payne city council president Brian Baine said the groundbreaking not only celebrated progress at the construction site, but that it also represented the steps that are being made to “pave the way” for the students’ future.

“I think it is a great opportunity for Fort Payne to be able build this new school. Anytime we can invest in our children it is a win,” Baine said. “Our children are the future of tomorrow and what we do today will pave the way to a brighter future for them, and ultimately a brighter future for Fort Payne and its citizens.”

Cunningham said the new elementary school will even benefit the middle school in way of capacity.

“This new facility not only replaces a building that originated in the mid 50s, but it will also alleviate overcrowding problems at Fort Payne Middle School with the transfer of the entire 5th grade to this new school,” Cunningham said.

The addition to the school system was made possible through the Fort Payne City School Board and the Fort Payne City Council and mayor.

Cunningham said he is thankful for a BOE, a city council and mayor, and a community that takes pride in the education of its children.

“I truly appreciate the Fort Payne City School Board and the Fort Payne city council and mayor for making this addition to our school system possible,” he said. “I want to thank them for their continued desire to provide our students now, and in the future, with a wonderful education in a state of the art facility.”

Cunningham said the groundwork at the new site began in February 2019 and that the construction is scheduled to start in the next few weeks. He said the new school will be a positive reflection on Fort Payne and that the projected time to unveil the community’s newest addition will be in approximately 18 months.

“Our entire community is to be commended for the commitment and pride they provide to make our educational opportunities the best possible,” he said.

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