Fire Marshal: New Loudon school gets temp occupancy certificate

Hugh G. Willett

LOUDON — Despite a few last minute construction details, children will be at their desks for the first day of school today at the new Fort Loudon Middle School.

The school was granted a temporary certificate of occupancy Tuesday, according to Kate Abernathy, a spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office in Nashville.

The certificate excludes use of the cafeteria, where the kitchen head is not ventilating smoke properly. Also excluded are the gymnasium, where the flooring has yet to be installed, and the auditorium, where seating is not installed.

The school cost about $18 million. The contractor is Merit Construction Co.

“Once all those issues have been remedied we will happily issue them a permanent certificate of occupancy,” Abernathy said.

Concern was raised at a Loudon County Commission meeting Monday when Commissioner Don Miller said that a certificate of occupancy had not yet been issued for the new school.

The commission also heard from Loudon resident Richard Anklin, who referenced a list of 99 items that had not yet been signed off by the contractor. Anklin said he was concerned about life safety issues at the school.

School director Jason Vance said life safety issues had been addressed. He said he expects all the items needed to gain the permanent certificate of occupancy should be finished within the month.

School board chairman Bobby Johnson Jr. said he thought the project had gone well. It is not unusual for large construction projects to have delays because of the weather, he said.

For example, it’s been too humid to finish installing the gym floor.

The school board is committed to the safety of the children, he said.

“There is no way we would let children in that building if there were any life safety issues,” he said.