|Officials break ground on new WHS Wednesday|
|Wednesday, September 19, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL
County officials and residents of Watertown gathered Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new Watertown High School.
“This is a great day for our community and an even greater day for our students,” said Watertown Mayor and County Attorney Mike Jennings.
“It is a great day to be a Purple Tiger,” noted WHS Principal Jeff Luttrell.
The site of the new WHS is located on Neal Road, just passed downtown Watertown. However, Jennings noted the land was not within the Watertown city limits. He sat down with the City Council and said, “We fixed that in two readings.”
Land was purchased in 2011 for $516,000 and the school was designed by local firm Kaatz, Binkley, Jones & Morris. Wilson County Director of Schools Mike Davis said the new school will cost $36,949,420.61.
Funding for the school was secured when Wilson County Commission approved a $28 million bond for the project in March, but when the bid to construct the school came in over budget the commission approved an additional bond of $9 million to cover the cost.
Also, a 7-cent property tax increase approved by the commission in August included three cents to pay off debt incurred to build the new school.
Jennings and Davis thanked the commission for their efforts to provide local students with the best facilities to continue their education. Thanks were also given to taxpayers who will shoulder the cost through the increased property tax.
“All of us want something better for our children and this is a huge leap forward in realizing that educational goal,” Jennings said.
Luttrell said the building will last for generations to come and said the new building does not make a school great, but pointed to the faculty and staff as well as students and parents who work together each and every year.
In August, WHS was the only school in Wilson County named to Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman's list of Reward Schools. WHS was on the list for being in the top five percent for growth in test scores.
Davis said the new building will be a 227,000 square foot facility that can house about 1,000 students. He said it will include all the sports facilities from football and basketball to softball, baseball, soccer and tennis.
The football stadium will seat approximately 2,000 fans and the gymnasium will hold about 1,500. The building will be the third to utilize geothermal technology to heat and cool the building, along with Lebanon High School and Mt. Juliet High School.
The school is expected to be completed by June 2014.
Davis noted upon completion, the oldest high school in the county will be 12 years old, referring to Wilson Central High School, which was built in 2002 and at that time, was the newest high school facility in the county.
“I haven’t been here long, but I believe this is the largest investment, public or private, in Watertown, ever,” Davis said.
Construction company R.G. Anderson Inc., will build the project. That company also built Lebanon High School.