Soil boring tests showed the Ralph Presley property in Beaverdale isn’t suitable for a septic sewage system, resulting in Whitfield County Schools being unable to use that land as a site for a new high school.

Score one for the Varnell area, now planned to be home to the new high school.

The county board of education on Thursday chose land owned by brothers Kenneth and James M. Boring off Old Prater’s Mill Road near Varnell Elementary School to be home of $51 million high school, which could house 1,200 students when it opens in 2010.

The vote was 3-2, with Chuck Oliver and Jerry Nealey in dissension, to pursue this property for almost $1.2 million.

“The Borings have been very gracious. They basically let us cherry pick from the land they own there. We’re near a major thoroughfare (Ga. Highway 2). This is the heart of Whitfield County,” said Tim Trew, board chairman, who voted for the purchase along with Gary Brock and John Thomas. “The Borings have been community and civic-minded. I applaud them. The land is much more valuable than that.”

The property is one that Realtor Bob Kinard presented before the board during a meeting in June. Administrators have consistently said they are always open to exploring any land offer.

Thomas said Kinard is owner of Kinard Realty Inc., and part-owner in Coldwell Banker-Kinard Realty with Mike Merritt, Bill Blackwood and Thomas. Thomas said he doesn’t see that connection as a conflict of interest.

“I won’t receive one penny through this transaction. I will gain nothing financially,” Thomas said. “Whatever Mr. Kinard earns comes from the Borings. The board of education is buying this land from the Borings.”

Thomas said he didn’t see any reason to recuse himself from the vote.

“Anybody could have presented that land. We printed ads in the newspaper asking people to approach the board with offers,” he said. “I’m proud of this property and proud of the deal we’re getting for the kids and all of Whitfield County.


Whitfield County Schools timeline

• Sept. 19, 2006: Voters pass the third educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), which will be worth about $78 million to the county school system if proceeds from the 1 percent sales tax reach its maximum limit of $115 million.

• December: $10 million in bonds sold to fund school construction projects.

• February 2007: Newspaper public notices seek property owners willing to sell or give away land to the school system.

• Feb. 6: Architects chosen for construction/renovation projects.

• Feb. 27: School system sells $14 million more in bonds.

• March 22: Board options to buy a 133-acre site at 1404 Presley Road for about $1.4 million ($10,429 per acre), to hold $51 million, 1,200-student high school.

• March 28: Construction management firm M.B. Kahn holds kickoff meeting with school administrators, architects.

• April 24: Board options to pay $410,000 for 39 acres on Cedar Ridge Road — three parcels of land owned by heirs of the Earl and Louise Thomason estate — for a new, 600-student elementary school. Cost is $10,500 per acre.

• May 1: Board options to purchase an additional five acres adjacent to the 39 acres on Cedar Ridge Road to allow the school system “to better situate the elementary school and its infrastructure.” Cost is $47,500; $9,500 per acre.

• May: Architect holds design team meetings for the high school, with designs based on the Presley property.

• June 5: Realtor Bob Kinard attends a school board meeting and offers to present a “more northern tract of land that would serve more efficiently” the needs of the school system, he said, by being located nearer residential growth and future sewer service.

• June 21: Board secures a 90-day extension on its option to purchase the Presley property for a high school because of perking problems.

• Aug. 28: Board votes 3-2 to terminate option to buy Presley property for a high school and votes unanimously to extend its option on the Cedar Ridge Road property by 30 days in order to continue testing its viability as an elementary school site.

• Aug. 30: Board votes 3-2 to option to buy the Boring property off Prater’s Mill Road as the new high school site for $1.2 million, or 160 acres at $7,000 per acre.

• April/May 2008: Construction set to begin.

• August 2009, 2010: Elementary and high schools, respectively, set to open.

“Some people talk, and that’s part of it. I won’t have any problem sleeping tonight.”

Nealey said the new location is not in line with his vision to best balance the high school population.

“At the beginning of the search, we all sat down, looked at a map and got a consensus on where this school should be, which was from Dawnville south to the north (Dalton) bypass,” Nealey said. “The biggest problem I had is that this location is more north of the existing high school. I think it would better serve us if it was farther south and east. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to support this decision going forward.”

Oliver said the cost of the Boring site is less than the $1.4 million the board was willing to pay for the Presley site, but he said the Boring property is “hillier” and contains more rock, so costs of prepping the land will make the prices a wash.

“Transportation will also be considerably further for those students redistricted from Southeast High School (to the new location),” Oliver said. “But this site will work. We’ve had long, serious discussions over the weeks. It’s difficult to please everybody.”

The Boring site is expected to be able to hook on to Dalton Utilities’ planned sewage plant near Prater’s Mill and the Coahulla Creek, which also runs near the school site.

The new high school would alleviate overcrowding at Northwest and Southeast high schools. The board on Tuesday also voted to extend for 30 days its option to buy land for a new elementary school off Cedar Ridge Road.

If that land proves viable, the new elementary school is expected to help distribute the student population and provide some relief from overcrowding at Antioch, Pleasant Grove, Dawnville and Eastside elementaries.

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