BY JOHN CONLEY
West Virginia's School Building Authority approved funding for a new Pineville Elementary School at its meeting in Charleston on Monday.
The SBA will provide $7.4 million in needs money and an additional $2 million in emergency funds for the $11.7 million project.
A $2.3 million match from the Wyoming County Board of Education completes the funding package.
"Everybody's hard work has finally paid off," said Superintendent of Schools Frank "Bucky" Blackwell. "I know the school and the staff and the kids are excited.
"Now we've got roll up our sleeves and go to work," he added.
The BOE submitted a new PES as its needs project last year, but despite being ranked as a high priority by SBA staff, didn't get funded.
This time around, the project got about a third of the $21 million available for projects no involving bond levies.
"We'll advertise for an architect right away," Blackwell said. "Then we have to decide where is the best place to build the school."
One site under consideration is the current location of the old Pineville Junior High, which would have to be torn down.
"If we build there, its's close quarters," Blackwell noted, "and we would have to buy some real estate across the street."
Another site under consideration is adjacent to Pineville Middle School.
"If we build there, it would be on the current location of the football field," stated Blackwell. "If we moved there, we would still want to have a football field for the Midget League and others who use it. We would want to keep something available for the children in PIneville.
The old drive-in theater site on Route 10 is another possibility.
"We'll consider at least three sites and possibly even more," Blackwell said. "We're open minded, but it all has to be feasible and affordable. And we'll have to do core drilling to make sure the site is suitable."
The new Pineville school could open as soon as the 2012-13 school term if things go smoothly, he indicated.
The PES structure has been flooded three times in the past ten years.
"We're anxious to get the school children away from the flooding elements," Blackwell remarked.
"We thought the 2001 flood was a fluke, but when the one in 2009 hit, we knew we had to do something. And then we had another one in June 2010."
This will mark Wyoming County's first-ever state-funded elementary school.
The last new elementary school built in the county was Road Branch and it was built with local money, Blackwell pointed out.
"My hat's off to the SBA and the state superintendent and everyone who helped us," the superintendent commented. "I think everyone realized this met the bill of health and safety and needed to be funded."