Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Construction of New School Proceeds Swimmingly

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Construction of New School Proceeds Swimmingly

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Just off the beaten path of County Road 220, behind a cluster of trees, houses and a veterinary clinic, lies one of the current bright spots of the Clay County school district's building plan.

A construction site surrounded by stacks of bricks, insulation and metal trusses is being transformed into Swimming Pen Creek Elementary School, which, unless something unexpected happens, will be completed ahead of schedule. The school is due by April, but might be finished as early as December, far ahead of its August 2004 opening date.

"We have had no problems at all so far . . . Everybody's happy," said Jim Connell, the district's director of facilities. "The contractor . . . might give us a Christmas present."

That's in contrast to the school's design twin, Argyle Elementary, which was supposed to open at the same time but is not even under construction yet. Due to permitting delays and other problems, the Argyle school had to be put off a year.

Also, completion of the county's newest school, Fleming Island High, is a few weeks behind schedule. The school is to open in August, but the principal and his staff moved in only last week, and much of the equipment and furnishings for the rest of the school had to be temporarily put in storage.

Meanwhile, construction of Swimming Pen Creek Elementary rolls merrily along, although district officials and contractors admittedly have their fingers crossed that nothing stalls its progress.

"It is hurricane season," said Mike Griffis, the district's project manager.

Thomas May Construction Inc. of Orange Park is the contractor.

"We have had some good weather right when we needed it," said Kent Hiter, the company's project superintendent at Swimming Pen Creek. "You don't want to get too optimistic, but we are hoping it will stay that way."

As many as 70 workers, including roofers, electricians, site crews, plumbers, dry wall installers, painters and carpenters, are laboring away on the site on any given day, he said.

The project cost is $9.2 million, including the buildings and improvements to Woodpecker Lane, which runs in front of the site. …

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