By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Danny Berry, President and CEO of Berry and Clay Construction, presented the Grapeland Independent School District Board of Trustees with an update on the construction of the new elementary school during the board’s regularly schedule meeting Monday, Oct. 22.

“We’re starting to put on some of the roof now, so that’s a good step toward getting complete,” Berry divulged. “Most of the metal stuff is complete. The electrician has run a lot of the conduit.”

Work on the installation of the building’s air conditioning system has also began, Berry said, and will continue following further roof work.

“We’ve done a little bit of hydromulching,” Berry continued. “I noticed a lot of grass is coming up. We want to get that before wintertime so we kind of keep erosion down; even just a little bit of that stuff really helps as far as water and things like that.”

Berry also acknowledged previous discussion regarding overflow following the recent heavy rainfall received throughout the area.

“Right now, none of our downspouts are hooked up; the building is just flooding like the land was before we got there,” he said. “We’re probably getting more water out on the street than what we will after we get done.”

The building’s retention pond, Berry said, is currently “holding a lot of water.

“It held more water – in fact, it was flowing out,” he said. “It will be able to hold probably another four feet of water, but it will let out slower than what it would if it was just flooding out all at one time.”

Berry expressed plans to investigate further options to control issues related to flooding.

“We’re still on schedule with everything,” Berry assured. “There’s been no problems other than when it rains a lot, we’re concerned, and we want to see what’s happening.”

During the public forum portion of the meeting, Kelton Long – a 2003 graduate of Grapeland High School who is now a member of the Grapeland Masonic Lodge – approached the board regarding the possibility of a cornerstone ceremony.

“Grapeland Masonic Lodge is a member of the Grand Lodge of Texas, and the Grand Lodge of Texas does a ceremony for cornerstones – primarily for government buildings, schools, hospitals, things of that nature,” Long explained. “It is a great opportunity to get some community involvement in the latter stages of construction.”

According to Long, multiple options exist for how to carry out a cornerstone ceremony.

“It can be anything from just a brick in the façade that says, ‘This is a cornerstone leveled by the Grand Lodge of Texas,’” Long shared.

The cornerstone has long been symbolic in operative masonry, Long said.

“It was the most important stone in the building. It was the one on which they built the building,” Long explained. “So, now, it’s ceremonial, especially with something like an educational facility. It’s symbolic in getting things started in the right direction.”

The cornerstone ceremony, Long added, is taken “very seriously” by the Grand Lodge of Texas.

“It is a Grand Lodge ceremony, so once we get approval from local jurisdiction – being the school board, in this case – I’ll actually present it to the Grand Lodge of Texas,” Long said. “We’ve already started the ball rolling, but with the board’s approval, we can continue that.”

The ceremony would be scheduled to take place near the completion of the school’s construction.

A popular choice among schools, Long said, is to place the cornerstone in the ground with a time capsule buried underneath.

“That’s the one that the brethren at the lodge would really like to pursue,” Long shared. “You can do something like an essay contest, and the winner at each grade level can take an item to put in the time capsule.”

Long further explained that a special date – such as the 100th Annual Peanut Festival – would then be designated for the retrieval of the time capsule.

“With board approval, we’ll pursue ideas,” Long said. “There’s no expense to the community or to the school or the school board.”

According to Grapeland ISD Board President James J. Martin, the matter will be further discussed during the board’s November meeting, set to take place Monday, Nov. 26.