$6 Million building project underway
The halls of Lumpkin County High School may be empty but campus is still bustling as construction is underway on a $6-million multipurpose athletic center.
And if things go according to plan, the 31,000 square foot facility should be filled with students by December of this year.
Though the school system recently paid off the debt for the 2000 construction of the high school itself, Superintendent Rob Brown said there was no reason to hold off on the project, which is funded solely by ESPLOST (Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax).
“We are fortunate to be in a position to do these projects,” Brown told The Nugget. “It doesn’t do any good to sit and be debt free when you have needs and interest rates are as low as they are now.”
That interest rate is a reported 1.88 and is attached to a loan that will be paid back by ESPLOST over a seven year period.
At the same time, ESPLOST funds will go towards a $75,000 revamp of the high school media center and a $86,000 purchase of of new audio and lighting equipment for the LCHS theater.
Brown said the time to act on these projects is now.
“The cost of construction is going up at a rate of 5-plus percent per year based on what we have been told by the construction industry,” he said, ”It makes no sense to wait. It would take us two years to build up that much money if we waited, and by then the costs would be up.”
NEW ATHLETICS FACILITY
The multi-use athletic facility will include an indoor running track, batting cages, physical education classrooms, and a multi-purpose gym area that will have bleacher-seating capacity for 400.
The project will include a 5,100 square foot weight room as well.
Brown said LCHS faculty had a say in the design, which was approved by the Board of Education in May.
“We have involved teachers, coaches, and administrators in every phase of the planning process so we can maximize the use of this facility. This facility will serve thousands of students for the next 30 or 40 years and we want to make sure it is done the right way."
The building will rise from the site of the old tennis courts and will also serve as a headquarters for the JROTC program, which currently operates out of a series of camouflaged trailers.
Meanwhile construction continues on the opposite end of LCHS campus where a new $1 million ESPLOST-funded tennis court project is underway. It will include eight courts, bleachers, a restroom facility and outdoor lighting.
Once the ribbon is cut on the new additions, Brown said the Board of Education’s next mission involves a plan for the aging Lumpkin County Elementary School building.
“That’s the next big challenge,” he said.