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BoE gives go-ahead to SEHS fieldhouse
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After waiting through two education special purpose local option sales tax project lists, South Effingham High School will finally get a fieldhouse.

“This has been on two ESPLOSTs,” said Effingham County Board of Education Chairman Lamar Allen. “It’s time to move forward.”

At a special called meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Effingham County Board of Education approved a recommendation to award the bid for the fieldhouse to Pope Construction for $1.477 million from ESPLOST funds.

The fieldhouse will be shared by SEHS and South Effingham Middle.

At its Jan. 19 meeting, the board tabled the item to see if the low bidders, Pope Constructon and Dabbs-Williams, would be willing to reduce the bid. The two base bids were within $1,000 of each, with Pope at $1.644 million and Dabbs-Williams at $1.645 million. The board was hoping for a bid of $1.5 million.

The bids came back with Dabbs-Williams cutting $92,775 from its base bid to $1.553 million and Pope Construction at $1.47 million, cutting $173,431.

The bids included alternates for digital documentation of the structure, lockers, washer/dryer and kitchen equipment. The board opted to add the digital documentation, which documents construction and the locations of wire  and such, to the Pope Construction contract for a final price of $1,477,579.

The board was given a head’s up that they needed to sign the contract prior to Feb. 1 because steel prices would go up, potentially raising the cost 10-15 percent, which is why the board called the special meeting to accept the Pope bid.

“I think 10 (percent) was like $18,000 more and could be as high as 15 percent more,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “So (it was) certainly worth calling a special called meeting.”

But the cost isn’t complete. The final structure will have lockers, a washer and dryer, and kitchen equipment eventually; however Effingham County BoE maintenance crews will build and install these items.

“They are things that our guys will complete,” Shearouse said. “I think grassing is one of the items that we would do ourselves instead of putting that into the contract. So, we probably saved some just based on the overhead charge of completing that. There will be some additional expenses tied to the contract because our guys will be completing those.”

Shearouse said SEHS Pricipal Dr. Mark Winters has agreed to help pay for the washer and dryer and potentially other costs through school store revenues and booster club funds.

Mose Mock said that he had deliberated whether ESPLOST funds should be used at this time for new construction. ESPLOST dollars are reserved for capital expenses, but the board is hoping the Legislature will consider broadening the definition of a capital expense or allow ESPLOST funds to be used for operational expenses to cushion budget woes.

“I have been very nervous about this,” said Mock. “But after much thought and prayer, I feel like this is what the voters voted for in the E-SPLOST; it’s on the list. We gave our word, and that’s what we’re going to do. We did go back and save almost a half a million off the bid.

“Until the Legislature, until that time that they allow us to use some of the ESPLOST money for operations, that, by law, this is what it’s supposed to be used for. People are expecting it. We are going to include the middle school. Therefore, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

As for other construction projects, Shearouse told board members that a concessions stand project at Ebenezer Middle will go out for bid Feb. 7, due March 6, and that planning on the Effingham County Middle School is continuing.

The board walked the site for the future ECMS athletic fields and an architect has been given the final field orientations.