Board OK's $524K for T.A. Dugger media center

By Thomas Wilson

   The Elizabethton Board of Education narrowly approved releasing capital funds of $524,000 for the proposed T.A. Dugger Junior High media center at Thursday night's board meeting, but not without wrangling over where the T-shaped building should be positioned on the school's campus.
   Board member Catherine Armstrong adamantly felt the media center should be repositioned closer to the T.A. Dugger main building.
   "I think it is in the best interests of the students to move it back," Armstrong told board members. "You don't want to have them out in open spaces too long."
   Board members approved a contract notice with Johnson Controls, Inc. in December to proceed with the media center's construction at a fixed maximum price of $580,000. The revised price of $524,000 set a base bid with two alternatives each providing for the installation of a canopy from the center to the existing school building. The proposed building would be built adjacent to T.A. Dugger school with the entrance facing West E Street.
   However, other board members felt turning the building would eliminate parking spaces around the school and create an unflattering cosmetic effect for the campus.
   "I have real problems with moving it back," said Dr. Bob Sams, board chairman. "I'd like for it to look decent."
   The $524,000 was released from the county capital reserve fund. The project is being handled through a contract between ECS and Johnson Controls, Inc. Board member Bob Berry wanted the issue deferred until all five board members and ECS director Dr. David Roper could visually review the make-up of the campus and make a decision.
   Armstrong moved to amend the building's existing site plan with an alternative plan relocating the building. The amendment was defeated 3-2 with Sams, Judy Richardson and Berry voting no. The board ultimately voted 3-2 with Armstrong and Bob Berry voting no to approve the original design proposal and release the capital reserve funds.
   After the meeting, Armstrong presented a written statement indicating she voted for the building to be moved because students would have less exposure to outside elements and have a "shorter, safer passage" from the main facility to the media center building.
   Board members also tabled for the second time a request from Johnson Controls to install electric basketball goals for the gymnasium of Elizabethton High School. The request proposed installing six electric-powered, motorized goals in the gym at a total price of $29,630. Jeff Lyons with Johnson Controls said the project's largest cost came from the needed installation of an electric panel box to accommodate the power load from the electric goals. "That is half the costs," Lyons told the board.
   Principal Ed Alexander said a recent accident with the gym's 30-year-old manually-operated goals gave impetus to installing the electric goals immediately. "We have to move those at least once a week and sometimes more depending on what we've got going on," Alexander told the board.
   However, Berry recommended the company add in the price of replacing four additional goals at Harold McCormick Elementary also moved by manual operation. Berry also felt a larger purchase of motorized goals could lower the overall price.
   John Hutchins, principal at Harold McCormick Elementary, said he would also "be concerned" given the recent accident involving the goals that had occurred at the high school.
   Lyons said he would have a new financial package involving the change over of goals at both schools by early next week. He said installation of the goals would likely take three weeks. The board may call a special meeting next week to approve the goals after receiving the overall purchase price for both schools.