By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor
Cannon County Board of Education went “topsy-turvey” Monday night (June 30) reversing action on restrooms and lighting for the CCHS football field.
The meeting was scheduled to finalize the budget for the 2014-2015 school year, but the two football field issues generated the most interest.
“Which one do you want to go with first,” Chairman Randy Gannon asked the board drawing little response. After some hesitation, it was decided to address the restroom question first.
Director of Schools Barbara Parker began with an update on plans to expand and repair the existing restrooms at a cost of $8,000.
“So the estimate of $21,000, that I had been saying all along was too high, was too high. They have revamped how they are going to build it. When John Passenger (schools maintenance director) got involved, it was suggested that they put all the bathrooms in a line,” Parker said.
Parker was interrupted by citizen Jim Gibbs who started videotaping the meeting.
“Are you media?” Chairman Gannon asked.
Gibbs answered no and Gannon responded “pictures aren’t allowed at the meeting” unless prior approval is given.
“I think the Supreme Court would disagree with you,” Gibbs answered. “I ask that you register my objection.”
Returning to the subject at hand, Parker said placing the restrooms in a line would cut costs and ease maintenance as well.
“We will be adding two handicapped restrooms, one for males and one for females, as well,” she said.
At the previous board of education meeting, Cannon County High School Principal Mike Jones had asked for $21,000 to complete the project.
Jones was late for the meeting, but soon arrived and launched into an explanation of the restroom situation at Parker’s request.
“$8,000 pretty much took care of most of the materials. There’s a couple more things like the breaker box, a few pipes. If we get anything from the Sheriff’s Department labor wise we will be OK, if not we’re going to have to use some funds to pay for labor,” Jones said.
“How much do you think it will be in labor?” asked Chairman Gannon.
“To lay blocks, you are looking at $1.60 to $1.70 per block and there’s 1,760 blocks. I think the thing that worries me the most is getting the pad poured. That’s the big deal and we’ve not got anybody to do that yet,” Jones said.
“If I had to guess I would say $4,000, but I am hoping otherwise, if I can get some help from the Sheriff’s Department,” he continued.
“So you are estimating it will be $4,000 more?” Gannon asked.
“Yes. My son and I are going to do the roof. He is a licensed contractor,” Jones said.
“So the completion date is Aug. 15?” asked Parker.
“Yes, ma’am,” responded Jones.
Board member Bruce Daniel asked Jones about pouring the foundation pad. The principal said his son has offered to do that, but he would prefer someone with more experience to do it.
Coach T.J. Daniel said he had spoken to the Sheriff ‘s Office earlier in the day and that some plumbing help might be possible, but there’s no one who can lay blocks.
“We’ve saved a lot of money to be honest with you. And I realize that I went away from my student’s plan. We had the unisex bathroom and when I cut that out it made my building smaller and that helped with the cost,” Jones said.
Two handicapped bathrooms are being added, a male and a female.
“We’re going to need to buy some lights. We’ve got PO’s (purchase orders) ready. John Passenger has been very helpful. It’s a simple building, but something that is going to be fine,” the principal said.
Gannon asked Jones about the care of the building, which in the past has been vandalized and water pipes busted due to lack of winterization.
“You are going to be responsible, right?” Gannon asked.
Jones agreed. “It’s an investment for the county.”
“Someone has to be responsible and in the past no one was responsible for a long time, because there are three sports that use it,” Parker said.
“Mrs. Parker is right. Someone got inside that building. They knocked one of the boards in the window out, went in and turned the water on and every pipe in that building burst,” Jones said.
“We’re going to make sure that it’s going to be flushed out and locked up in the winter,” he said.
Jones said the new facility will be taken care of by CCHS.
“It’s not going to happen again. I want to make that plain. I started this and I’m going to finish it even if it comes out of my pocket. I promise you, that no matter what you give me …. I just want that building built.”
Director of Schools Parker took exception to comments made by Cannon County residents on Facebook, the online social media service, concerning the restrooms at the football field.
“You and I have talked about this since football season,” Parker told Jones.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jones answered.
“The only reason you asked for funding is because the chairman said everyone else asks for funding so why don’t you ask for funding. OK, that’s another person who has been bashed, the chairman,” Parker continued.
“So you brought a proposal that your carpentry class put together with their best knowledge a plan and they were going to do the work and you have found out that their estimates were really high, but if they had still done the work, under the supervision of Mr. Coats, it would have already been done by now,” she said.
“This project was going to be done even if the board never gave you a dollar?” Parker asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” Jones said.
“So that is something that’s out there. The board has approved the project, because I told you that you had to get the board’s approval because you were adding to a structure. East Side had to ask. Anytime you add or take away from a school’s property, you have to get board permission to do that. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to receive funding because lots of time things are done from public grants or private donations.
“The high school doesn’t have a PTO, but Mr. Jones has been looking at his budget to see if we had funding for this. So the board gave $8,000. That’s not out there,” Parker said.
“So this has been in the works since last fall?” asked Daniel.
“Mr. Jones and I talked about this since last fall,” Parker said.
“I didn’t know anything about it until recently,” Daniel answered. His son, T.J., is head football coach at CCHS.
“Because he (Jones) wanted to present a plan. I still don’t think this plan is complete, because there is a lot of guess work here. There was a guesstimate on materials. He doesn’t know for sure on getting labor,” Parker said.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. I think the right way is to give him $8,000 and let him go with that. He’s going to be in this project in July. He hasn’t even started it yet. He tried to dig a footing and changed his mind on where he’s going to put it.
“So I would like for him to do a little more research to see if he’s going to get any donated labor from the inmates or whoever and then come back with actual costs where you can say up to a certain amount. If you want to make a motion to that effect,” Parker said.
“I think there’s been a lot of press, a lot of negative hype about something that people didn’t have all the facts about, and the estimate, the information, that was presented wasn’t as accurate as it should have been,” said.
“Gentlemen, what do you want to do?” Gannon asked the board members.
Daniel said the project needs to be funded adequately.
Gannon said he agreed. “Does $8,000 cover it?”
Daniel pointed out that school will resume in August.
Gannon said he agreed, but the original cost projection of $21,000 has confused the issue.
“The $8,000 wasn’t enough, but now apparently the $8,000 is sufficient.”
Gannon asked Jones if he could have accurate figures by the board’s next meeting on July 10.
“We need to get started, but I will know a lot more tomorrow (July 1),” he principal said.
Gannon asked Jones if he could have something concrete by July 10.
“Yes, I believe so,” the principal answered.