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Hartselle Enquirer

Change in state law will mean extra expenses

The cost of building the proposed new Hartselle High School is going to be affected by a new state law passed by the State Legislature in its last session and signed into law on April 30 by Gov. Bob Riley.
House Bill 459 requires schools built after July 1 to have ”safe rooms” or other structurally reinforced interior space that provides students with a safe environment in the event of a natural disaster, such as a tornado.
“This is something we hadn’t anticipated, but we see the benefit,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed said. “Whatever the cost, we’ll deal with it and move forward. Our most Important concern is the safety of our students.”
“We’re waiting to get feedback from the State Building Commission as to the specifics of the law,” said Bill Wallace, executive vice president of the architectural firm of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, Inc. of Montgomery. “Cost could be a factor based on the type of building materials required, but we have no way of knowing how much that will be at this time. We’ll study all of the options available to us and come up with a plan that will keep costs at a minimum while safeguarding the safety of students.”
One of the options that will be looked at is the concrete and steep reinforcement of exterior walls to provide “safe space” in the school’s corridors, Wallace said.
Wallace said plans for the new school are on schedule  and are about 80 percent complete.
The school will be built on a 50-acre site on Bethel Road at an estimated cost of $40 million. Excavation is expected to begin on or about Oct. 1, following receipt of a wetlands permit from the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Target date for occupancy is August 2012.

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