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South Point community opens two new schools

SOUTH POINT — Sunday was Ken Cook’s day — one he’s been looking forward to for at least three years. And the community of South Point turned out in full force, despite the cold, blustery squalls, to join their superintendent in his joy at the dedication of their two new schools.

Often visibly moved during the hour-long ceremony at the shared cafetorium for the middle and high schools, Cook told the crowd getting to this point was a labor of love.

“This project has taken team work, long hours and believe me, sleepless nights,” he said. “Now you students can take giant steps to a great future. After today, it’s up to you to do the hard work and take advantage of the opportunities.”

Built on 30 of 84 acres owned by the school district on County Road 60, off U.S. 52, the middle and high schools are the first of a multi-million dollar project that will eventually bring all new buildings to the district.

The project to replace the two schools began in March 2004 when a $4.91 million bond issue and a half-million levy was passed for the new facilities. Over the next 27 years, the bond issue will raise $7.7 million in property taxes for the building project to be added to $30.8 million from the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

At one point Cook, sounding more like a politician on a stump speech than a superintendent, encouraged those present to start focusing on other long-term goals for the village.

“We have an industrial park. Now we can provide the education. Now we need to get some jobs in that industrial park,” he told the cheering crowd of parents, students, teachers and well wishers.

Joining Cook on the dais were the Rev. Aaron Childers of Solida Missionary Baptist Church, Harold Shafer, superintendent of Lawrence County ESC, Todd Hager of the Ohio School Facilities Commission, Todd Book, State Rep from the 89th District, Clyde Evans, State Rep from the 87th District, Larry Peterson from McDonald, Cassell & Bassett, architects, and the six members of the South Point Board of Education, Glen Seagraves, Terry Blake, Bill Rose, John Sherman, Dale West and Dan McDavid.

Outgoing Seagraves, Blake and Rose were honored for their years of service and Haley Lavender, South Point senior, unveiled her commemorative drawing of past and present schools. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8850 of Ironton presented Cook with a new flag for the schools.

As Seagraves addressed the crowd, he thanked them for their support for the project.

“We asked you to vote for the school levy so our kids could have the same things as other kids in Ohio,” he said. “On behalf of the board, there is no better Christmas present our community can give their kids than a new school.”