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Breaking New Ground at Latexo ISD

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Construction Set to Begin by End of August

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

LATEXO – On a muggy Thursday morning, Aug. 19, the Latexo Independent School District Board of Trustees, Superintendent Michael Woodard and other administrators, along with representatives from the architectural firm of Goodwin, Lasiter, Strong and the construction firm of Berry and Clay, broke ground on the district’s new, multi-purpose facility.

The multi-purpose facility is part of a $5 million bond package which will also cover the costs of additional classrooms for CTE (career and technical education) courses and a new cafeteria for the elementary school.

When the first serious discussions on the bond initiative were held in late 2019 and early 2020, the hope – if the measure was approved by the voters – was to have the project completed by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Unfortunately, no one factored in the affect the COVID-19 pandemic would have.

The election was pushed back from May 2020 until November 2020 but eventually passed by a margin of 626 votes (62.2 %) in favor of the bond to 381 votes (37.8 %) against it.

Almost as soon as the ink dried on the vote canvass, the design process began in earnest which included the vetting of mostly local contractors and subcontractors. By the time all the pieces of the puzzle had been gathered together, the district had opened its doors for the 2021-2022 school year.

Despite the postponed election, the COVID-19 pandemic, a brutal winter which wreaked havoc on East Texas, the LISD Board of Trustees, LISD administrators and the Latexo community pulled together as a team. And on Thursday morning, they were rewarded as the first golden shovels plowed into the dirt for the official groundbreaking ceremony.

“We are excited to get started,” LISD Superintendent Michael Woodard said. “We are finally ready to get some fences up and start some building around here and at the elementary. Next week, we will put the fence up and get after it from there.”

The superintendent said he thinks the entire project should be completed within a year or possibly a year and a half, depending on weather and materials.

Board President Kelly Nicol added, “I would like to thank the community for having the trust in us to take on this project. We are going to do a good job for them and have something everyone can be really proud of.”

With previous bond initiatives having been rejected by voters, Nicol was asked for his comments on the passage of this bond.

“There was an overwhelming turnout and a big win for us. We had nearly a 2-1 margin of victory. It was obvious the community wanted this. We are just happy to be here and help out to make this a success. It will be a great showpiece for the community and something we will all be very proud of,” the board president said.

“We started this whole process,” Nicol continued, “with the bond being passed. Before that, COVID-19 hit and we were right in the middle of a pandemic. The bond was originally slated for a May (2020) election. It was pushed back to November and we were still able to pass the bond.”

After the election, however, Nicol said prices began to skyrocket upwards.

“No one passed a bond in this area, except us. Other people around the state are over-budget. The contractors I have talked to have told me they don’t know if jobs will happen because they are so far over-budget. We’re under-budget. Our project is done and we came in under-budget. It was an unbelievable effort by our contractors to get this done. We are proud to be a part of this and we have the right people behind us,” he said.

While expressing his appreciation to all the contractors and subcontractors, Nicol singled out Vulcraft, a Division of Nucor, for their assistance in the project.

“Vulcraft has been a great partner for us and we feel they will be a great partner in the future, not only in this building process, but also inside the walls of our school. They are a great community partner and we look forward to working with Vulcraft for many years to come,” he said.   

With a smile dancing around his eyes, Woodard looked around the soon-to-be construction site and commented, “Let’s get started!”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.          

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