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School board votes to demolish Union Elementary

by Minden Press-Herald

The building that once housed students at Union Elementary School is set to be torn down.

In Monday’s meeting of the Webster Parish School Board, members voted unanimously to grant the bids and begin the process of taking down the building which has sat vacant for three years.

“That building is dangerous,” Buster Flowers, who heads up security for Webster Parish Schools said. “There’s water in it; there’s glass everywhere. That’s part of why we want to go on and take it down.”

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Rawls said the building has repeatedly been vandalized, even while talks with Zion Hill Baptist Church were underway to lease the building.

“It’s been vandalized; windows have been broken,” he said. “They’re tearing up the water pipes, tearing holes in the walls, and we’re worried about somebody getting hurt.”

Zion Hill Baptist Church at one time considered leasing the building from the school board to use as a community center, and the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office had also considered trying to use it as a substation for their work-release program. The insurance coverage was too high for the church, and the community opposed Sheriff Gary Sexton’s proposal, so the building has steadily deteriorated, Rawls said.

The superintendent said the project should begin sometime in January, taking approximately three months to demolish from start to finish.

Board members awarded the bid to ALTEC Environmental Consulting, LLC to the tune of approximately $99,000. Funding for the project will be done with “bond” money, finance director Crevonne Odom said. Once, or if, all the bond money is used, the remaining balance will be taken from maintenance funds.

According to the proposal, the scope of the work includes:

“Project management and on-site supervision of the demolition process to ensure that all federal, state and local regulations are followed.

“Demolition of all the buildings will be completed. The parking lot will be properly grated at the conclusion of the demolition. (The) exterior chain-link fence will remain.

“At the conclusion of the project, ALTEC will provide the Webster Parish School Board with a closeout report with documentation of all the activities outlined above.”
ARC Abatement 1, Ltd., was awarded the bid for the actual demolition of the building, in the amount of $67,253, using the Doyline Bond Fund. For $12,252, ARC will also take care of the asbestos removal.

Because the building is old, board member Penny Long had concerns about the removal of the asbestos that remains in the building. She asked several questions along those lines, including if all usable material had been removed from the school.

Flowers assured her all usable materials, what had not already been stolen, had been removed and the building is ready to be taken down.

Long asked that one more walk-through be done before the project began. Board members agreed.

When the demolition is complete and the entire structure and concrete foundation are removed from the premises, Dr. Rawls said the property would be grated. At this point, it is unknown what will become of the site, but the school board still owns the mineral rights on the property.

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