By Janet Bradley
A large crowd gathered on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 to mark the beginning of construction on Phase 1 of the Trenton Middle/High School Special Facilities Project. School personnel, community members, and invited guests celebrated the official groundbreaking of Phase 1, which will include a cafetorium to serve Trenton Middle/High School as well as the community. The cafetorium will be approximately 25,000 square feet when completed.
The ceremony was held under the large oak tree at the current bus loop, with the groundbreaking taking place close by where the construction will begin. Cheri Langford, Principal of Trenton Middle/High School welcomed guests to the ceremony. Platform guests were introduced by Deen Lancaster, School Board Chair, and included Superintendent Rob Rankin, School Board Members, David Vincent from JRA Architects, Senator Rob Bradley, Representative Chuck Clemons, Representative Travis Cummings, and Special Facilities Project Committee Members.
Superintendent Rankin spoke regarding the process of the project since May of 2015. He shared that David Spencer, Director of Operations, noticed needs on the Trenton Middle/High School campus. This led to a review team from the Department of Education visiting the campus in October of 2015, and the team agreed there were facility needs on the campus. Rankin stated, “An architect was hired in the Spring of 2016, and we also presented our plan to the Department of Education that year. After the presentation from the committee, the Gilchrist project was ranked number one for receiving special facilities money of over 16 million.” The committee went back to the Department of Education in August of 2017 and were once again ranked number 1 to receive the funds.
Due to the Parkland incident in 2018, the funds were put on hold so the state could allocate funds to school safety and security. Gilchrist did receive 2 million to begin stages of the project. In this past legislative session, Gilchrist was awarded 7.2 million to begin the project with hopes of another 7 million next year.
Rankin thanked Senator Rob Bradley, Representative Chuck Clemons, and Representative Travis Cummings for all their hard work and dedication in securing the money for this project.
Michelle Walker-Crawford, School Board Member and member of the Special Facilities Committee, gave the project overview to the audience. She explained the project will be broken into three phases to allow the day to day operations and consistent learning of students to continue in a least restrictive manner. Phase 1 will be the construction of the new cafetorium, Phase 2 will start the renovation of the current auditorium into a state-of-the-art media and technology center, and Phase 3 will see new roofs on some current buildings, installation of a new fire alarm system, entry gates with remote access, and security cameras.
Crawford commented, “The design of the new cafetorium will serve not only the needs of our students, but will provide a great multi-purpose facility for both our students and the community”. When finished, the auditorium, will seat close to 1000.
Crawford shared during the next few months changes will begin to be seen on the Trenton Campus, and the committee hopes that early in the 2020-2021 school year, Phase 1 will be complete and students will be using the new cafetorium.
David Spencer, Director of Operations, spoke about what the public would be seeing in the near future. He said a portable is being moved soon, fences will be placed to secure the construction site, and the removal of some older buildings will start so construction can begin.
Senator Rob Bradley and Representative Chuck Clemons spoke to the crowd congratulating the committee on continuing to pursue and finally receive the special facility funding. Both Senator Bradley and Representative Clemons, along with Representative Travis Cummings, played a major role in securing this funding for Gilchrist County.
The ceremony ended with the platform guests all grabbing a shovel and participating in the ground breaking event.
The Special Facilities Projects Committee members are Rob Rankin, Michelle Walker-Crawford, David Dose, David Spencer, Cheri Langford, David Vincent, Larry Paterson, and Ronda Parrish. The Gilchrist County School Board and the Special Facilities Committee expressed thanks to the Department of Education for making this vision a reality.
Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Phase 1 of Trenton Middle/High School Special Facilities Project
By Janet Bradley