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Architect Greg Martin from Williamson Shriver Architects speaks during a special session of the Lincoln County Board of Education on Aug. 26.

HAMLIN — The Lincoln County Board of Education has named Williamson Shriver Architects as the firm for the proposed Duval PK-8 and Midway Elementary consolidation project.

The vote came at the board’s Aug. 31 meeting, five days after the special session called to interview the final three firms up for consideration in the project.

Architect Greg Martin from Williamson Shriver Architects said during his interview that his firm has extensive experience with building schools. The firm has completed multiple projects at all grade levels.

Each firm spent approximately one hour before the board detailing their plans. The other two firms considered were McKinley & Associates and the Thrasher Group.

The school system is expected to submit a needs-based application to the School Building Authority for the consolidation project, with that initial application due Sept. 10.

Lincoln County Schools held a special meeting Aug. 9 to detail the short timeline leading up to the School Building Authority presentations for funding consideration in November.

Lynn Hurt and Jeff Huffman, both of whom have been assisting administrators with addressing compliance issues in the county, were on hand for that work session to discuss the timeline of prep for the presentation to request funds.

The biggest hurdle currently is attempting to locate a suitable piece of land that is large enough for the project. Martin also touched on this during his interview.

“Schools are not designed overnight, they take time,” Martin said. “And one of the most important things early on is understanding the site location. We understand you guys have some of them you’re looking at. So early on we want to start doing site selection, and you want to start doing your site due diligence to understand what that site is capable of having.”

Huffman previously said part of the process also requires that closing hearings be held at both school locations prior to the presentation to the SBA in November. During these hearings it will be specified that the schools are not looking at closure until 2024 or 2025 at the earliest. These meetings are tentatively scheduled for mid-October.

“Public hearings regarding these school closures, we’ll host hearings in both locations,” Huffman said.

Hurt said they’ll likely look at Lincoln County High School as the location for the Duval closing hearing since it cannot be held inside the former school building, but this will be announced with the required posting on the meeting.

Kelley will make the presentation to the SBA on either Nov. 1 or 2. Kelley has reminded community members that while the situation has become more severe with the closure of the Duval PK-8 building, Lincoln is still in competition with 54 other counties so funding is not a guarantee.

Lincoln County Schools approached the SBA in 2020 with the funding request for this project and was denied. In the instance that it is denied again, he said administrators will go through the process again next year.

The project has received increased attention and scrutiny recently with an architectural report leading to the closure of Duval PK-8’s main building mere weeks before the start of school Aug. 18.

The closure announcement noted that an architectural report recommended more parts of Duval be closed than what already had been late last year, so the administration made the decision to close the facility entirely.

Lincoln County Schools first announced July 23 that the main school building at Duval PK-8 would be permanently closed after receiving a report from CAS Structural Engineering.

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