BOE hires contractor for HPES

Jeremy Nash

Loudon County Board of Education approved a contract Thursday with Evans-Ailey Construction Inc. to do work on Highland Park Elementary School.

BOE Vice Chairman William Jenkins motioned, and school board member Brian Brown seconded. The vote passed 9-0 in favor. School board member Ric Best was absent.

Evans-Ailey Construction came in as the lowest bidder of three companies at slightly more than $2.2 million. Other bidders were K&F Construction Inc. and Merit Construction Inc.

“The Loudon County Board of Education is excited to approve the contract with Evans-Ailey for the work at Highland Park Elementary School,” Director of Schools Jason Vance said. “There are several reasons why the board is so excited about being able to move forward.
“To list a few, the contractor has been known for their exemplary work from several past projects including the current Loudon High School addition, they bid the project under the board’s budget which will obviously save money, and most important reason, in my opinion, the students, teachers and parents at Highland Park will greatly benefit from the construction of new classrooms and renovation of the cafeteria.”
Vance said now that the school board has approved the contract for work on the elementary school, excavation should begin next week.
“I think earlier today we said it’d be around a 280-day contract, and so the faster we can get it moved and get everything going it’ll be less interruption for our school,” Scott Newman, school board member, said.
Work will include a new library, more classroom space and renovation of the kitchen and cafeteria area. In a previous interview, Assistant Director of Schools Mike Garren said the project should not interfere “too much” with daily school operations.
Evans-Ailey Construction has in the past worked with the school board on projects, and currently is involved in construction of a new Loudon High School wing addition that will provide 12 classrooms, a new band room, a culinary arts room, two additional science labs, more dining room space and a secure entryway in the front of the building leading to a new office for administration.
“They’re very reputable, and they work good with us,” Newman said.
Newman said Charlie Underwood, who is currently watching over the LHS project, will also oversee Highland Park Elementary School. School board members hired Underwood for Highland Park Elementary in August.
“I think that they’re going to be finished sometime in February,” Vance said of the LHS wing addition. “It’s my recommendation to the school board that we complete the punch list all the way through before we enter that part of the campus. So in essence we would complete the project in its entirety and then we would enter the building at that point in time. There’s really no rush to get into it as we’ve got the whole second semester to get through. We don’t want to hurry up, we want to make sure they do it the right way and occupy the building as we see fit.”