Bids due next month for vacant school buildings

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 18, 2002

[1/18/02]The Halls Ferry and Culkin elementary buildings are up for bids after the Vicksburg Warren School District Board trustees voted Thursday to act on the schools empty for 2 1/2 years.

After the advertising period, bids will be opened Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m., at the start of the next school board meeting.

“We feel like there is some interest now in the ball park of the kind of bids we want,” said Superintendent Donald Oakes.

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He was mum on whether the district has obtained appraisals, has any idea what the properties are worth or an opinion on how the land should be used just that the district wants the most money possible.

Students who would have attended Halls Ferry or Culkin plus Bovina, Grove and Cedars now attend new Dana Road and Sherman Avenue facilities that opened in the fall of 1999.

Disrepair at the Halls Ferry building was cited in a letter to the school board last month from Vicksburg building inspector Charles James.

He noted several deficiencies to the building’s exterior and told the school board to get the facility up to code.

Mayor Laurence Leyens this morning said he had no comment on whether the city is interested in bidding on the Halls Ferry tract. He did indicate the city didn’t want a derelict structure to remain at the Pemberton-Halls Ferry-South Frontage intersection, one of the city’s busiest.

“We do have an absolute desire to see that property disappear or change,” Leyens said.

Animosity toward the city letter was apparent Thursday night. “Have we cut the grass out there at Halls Ferry?” school board president Zelmarine Murphy asked before the vote in reference to one of the deficiencies cited.

“All in favor raise both hands because we’re going to get rid of that property,” Murphy told the board.

Oakes said James’ letter to the school district had nothing to do with the board’s decision. “Not one speck,” Oakes said.

The board has been accepting offers, but not formally seeking sealed bids. Also, if offers are received, the board can reject any and all if deemed too low.

Both schools are near expansive recreation areas. Culkin, at Culkin and Mount Alban Roads, fronts Warren County-maintained ball fields. East of Halls Ferry on land that includes a former city dump, the City of Vicksburg has developed a vast area of ball fields, tennis courts and is adding a splash play area.

Of the schools that became surplus, Cedars was sold to Head Start, Bovina became the Center for Alternative Programs and Grove Street is used as the district’s parenting and media center.

In other business, Oakes notified trustees that Vicksburg High Principal Donald Taylor will be retiring at the end of the school year, effective June 30.

“We will advertise across the state, but that doesn’t rule out anyone in the district” for the job opening, Oakes said. He said he would be working with the Vicksburg High faculty in the search for a new principal.

The school board also:

Voted to hire Mike Jones of Johnson Bailey Henderson McNell Architects to investigate the gyms at Sherman Avenue and Dana Road Elementaries and give recommendations about acoustical work. “We need to lower that decibel level in there at least 50 percent,” Oakes said.

Accepted donations from Wal-Mart, $500 to the South Park S.E.A. Lions environmental project, Vicksburg Factory Outlets, $50 to the Vicksburg Junior High Cheerleaders, Redwood PTO, a television valued at $199.88 to Redwood Elementary, and the Redwood Booster Club, a cotton candy machine valued at $717.10 and two 6-foot benches valued at $494.

Extended the district’s contract with Utility Analysts for another calendar year. The company calculates the pro-rata share of utility expense that is charged back to each of the schools. Its fee is $750 per month.

Appointed Beth Martin and Stacey Wallace to teacher positions at Sherman Avenue Elementary for the 2001-02 school year.