Watson Chapel School District breaks ground on new Edgewood building

The Watson Chapel School District officially broke ground Monday afternoon at the site of a new Edgewood Elementary School building that will replace the original structure constructed in the 1950s.

With the theme Breaking Good, representatives of the school district, the school board and the construction project team donned hard hats and took up shovels in the brief ceremony held under sunny skies on the campus, which is located at 4100 W. 32nd Ave. in Pine Bluff.

School board President Donnie Hartsfield; Vice President Robin Barker; secretary Ronnie Reynolds; and building committee Chairwoman Sandra Boone joined district Superintendent Danny Hazelwood, as well as project architect Dave Sadler of Nelson Architectural Group; Van Tilbury, president of East-Harding Construction; and project manager Shawn Carroll.

“Our ultimate goal is to have the kids in the new building by fall 2014,” Hazelwood said earlier this year. “Of course, that is assuming perfect weather.”

Sadler said that the construction has three distinct phases.

Over the summer the earthwork and site work phase was completed, which included the clearing of trees, the installation of utilities and other general prep work.

“The building phase will include the construction of the roughly 50,000-square-foot classroom building,” Sadler said earlier this year. “This will be going on for about 10 months and should be completed at the end of spring 2014.”

Sadler said the third and final phase will include the demolition of the old building.

“We will demolish the old building beginning with asbestos removal as soon as school is out in the spring of 2014,” Sadler said. “We will also be renovating the existing gymnasium. We will pave the new parking areas and the school bus loop, which is timed for completion by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.”

Sadler said that if the project encounters significant weather delays, the move-in date will be pushed back to the spring 2015 semester.