County updates school board on projects

By Shannon Jenkins

In its first joint meeting of 2005 with the school board on Thursday, the Henry County Board of Commissioners provided updates on several road projects that coincide with new and proposed school complexes.

Most of the road projects slated to serve new school construction are expected to be complete within two months of the new schools' opening, county Public Works Division Director Michael Harris said.

At the Dutchtown site off of Jonesboro Road in western Henry County, Harris said the county is in the process of acquiring the right of way for realigning portions of Mitchell Road, the road that accesses the three-school complex.

Just before the Dutchtown middle and high schools opened in August 2004, temporary pavement was used along Mitchell Road. Harris said the county plans to construct a new portion of Mitchell Road and repave the entire stretch with more permanent asphalt when school dismisses this summer. Dutchtown Elementary School is set to open in August.

Harris said the Henry County Department of Transportation is also in the process of hiring a firm to design the road improvements near the site of what will be Ola middle and high schools near the intersection of North Ola Road with Wilson Drive and Snapping Shoals Road.

The county plans to hire the firm by April and have the proposed improvements on North Ola Road completed by June 2006. Improvements are also planned at North Ola, Wilson Drive and Snapping Shoals intersection. The Ola schools are planned for completion in August 2006.

In other projects, the Board of Commissioners approved a $50,000 study of the wetlands in the area of Peeksville and South Ola roads near Wolf Creek in southern Henry County. The Henry County Board of Education owns a 107-acre parcel east of South Ola Road planned for a new middle school and high school, but a project to realign South Ola at Peeksville would encroach on 6 acres of school board property.

"The realignment kind of runs through the parking lot" in the proposed layout, schools Superintendent Jack Parish said.

The school board is looking at shifting the proposed school site south and out of the way of the proposed road. But the wetlands in the area of Wolf Creek could make construction difficult.

"We didn't think we had enough or a sufficient amount of information on that property to make that determination," Parish told commissioners.

The schools are not on any funded school board plans.

"We have no intentions of building (on that property) right now," said Ray Hudalla, school board chairman.

"Hopefully, this will be one (road) project we will be ahead of a school going in," said District I Commissioner Warren Holder, who represents the area.

The road realignment is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006.

Staff writer Michael Davis contributed to this article.